Recently, Stanley Ho, the longtime kingpin of gambling in the
former Portuguese colony of Macau, announced plans to develop a
huge casino complex that will feature an underwater gaming hall
with 450 tables and 3,000 slot machines. The proposed complex will
also include two hotels, a shopping mall and a 4,000-seat concert
His partner in this new venture is Australian publishing magnate
Kerry Packer, said to be worth $5 billion. Ho and Packer paid an
estimated $214 million for the land on Macau’s Cotai Strip, where
Las Vegas Sands plans to develop its own $12 billion Las
Vegas-themed gambling complex, its second property there.
Earlier this year, the MGM Mirage announced that it would develop a
$975 million waterfront resort and casino in Macau, which is
located 40 miles west of Hong Kong on the southern coast of
Gambling is banned on the mainland of China, but Macau has
traditionally been a magnet for gamblers from all over Asia.
However, the city has never seen a boom like the current one.
Gaming revenue in Macau is expected to grow by 20 percent in the
next few years; this year alone Macau is expected to pass Las Vegas
as the most lucrative casino market in the world.
As if to emphasize the Las Vegas connection, the Macau government
recently sponsored Macau Week in Las Vegas, with events at several
major hotels that positioned the city as the “entertainment capital
For 42 years, Ho, a Hong Kong entrepreneur, had a monopoly on
casino gaming in Macau. His 12 properties, including the famous
Lisboa Hotel, accounted for an estimated 60 percent of the city’s
$7.5 billion economy and brought in 58 percent of the government’s
revenue through gambling taxes.
In 1999, however, shortly before Macau was handed back to China
(Hong Kong was handed over in 1997), the Beijing government
announced that it was accepting bids for new casinos, setting off
the current scramble for licenses.
Since then, two major players in Las Vegas, Steve Wynn and Sheldon
Adelson, have moved ahead with plans to open their own casino
operations in Macau. Last year, Adelson opened the Las Vegas Sands
there, and Wynn’s resort is scheduled to open in 2006.