A Safe Bet for Macau

J.L. Erickson Macau casino development continues to be hot, with more developers piling into plans to create a “Vegas-like” strip to lure travelers. Late last month, a developer announced plans for a new underwater casino with up to 450 gaming tables and 3,000 slot machines scheduled to open in mid-20

By: J.L. Erickson

Macau casino development continues to be hot, with more developers piling into plans to create a “Vegas-like” strip to lure travelers.

Late last month, a developer announced plans for a new underwater casino with up to 450 gaming tables and 3,000 slot machines scheduled to open in mid-2008. Leisure and entertainment firm Melco International Development Ltd. said the construction is scheduled to start later this year on the $1 billion resort that will include deluxe apartments, 2,000 hotel rooms, a shopping mall and a 4,000-seat performance hall.

The resort on Macau’s Cotai strip will be about 10 minutes from central Macau and developed in a joint venture between Melco and Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd. Controlled by the family of Macau casino mogul Stanley Ho, Melco is mainly invested in hotels, slot halls and other gaming business in Macau. Melco and PBL had already teamed up to invest in the Park Hyatt casino in Macau and to bid on a casino resort project in Singapore.

Meanwhile, entertainment group Greek Mythology Casino, which opened its new casino in Macau in December 2004, said that the casino has drawn 30,000 visitors daily in recent months, propelling work on a second phase of development that will include more VIP rooms.

“We are much encouraged by the robust performance of the casino and will speed up the expansion of VIP rooms and slot machines,” said Mr. Michael Chan, vice chairman of Greek Mythology Casino. “Upon regulatory approval, we plan to add more VIP rooms to our casino shortly.”

In recent years Macau, on the western bank of the Pearl River Delta in the Guangdong province of Southern China, has experienced a tourism boom fuelled by the liberalization of the gaming industry in 2002. Last year, Macau officials estimate the number of visitors to the city reached 17 million, up more than 40 percent from the previous year. The surge translated into a jackpot for Macau casinos, which drew an estimated combined revenue of more than $5 billion.

Hotel companies due to operate on the Cotai Strip include Four Seasons Hotels, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Marriott International, Hilton Hotels, Regal Hotels, Dorsett Hotel Group, InterContinental Hotels, Las Vegas Sands and MGM Mirage. Also under construction by Wynn Resorts is the Wynn Macau, a 600-room hotel-casino set to open next year on 16 acres near Macau's inner harbor.

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