Please note this article covers news to the 8th August and for daily updates go to Scarab Asia News page Contact Steve Hand: [email protected]
From the end of the month of August Asian casino news was supposed to have been dominated by Macau and the opening of the Venetian Macao Resort, but with the global credit squeeze starting to bite, it was James Packer’s Publishing & Broadcasting and its joint venture partner Melco International Development that were in the headlines the most.
Packer’s Macau casino plans have certainly been hindered by the higher cost of borrowing money. Publishing & Broadcasting and its joint venture partner Melco International Development said they had borrowed $US1 billion ($A1.2 billion) less than planned to build and develop the City of Dreams casino and entertainment resort in Macau. The money will be enough to build almost all of the casino and 85,000 square feet of retail space, as well as the 366-room Hard Rock Hotel, and Crown Towers Hotel, Cotai. The Grand Hyatt Macau twin-tower hotel and a 1700-seat Theatre of Dreams can also be built. MPEL will need more money for its plans to build a $353 million apartment-hotel complex on the City of Dreams by 2009.
If it all seems like bad news for MPEL it does not seem to have affected the share price, up 40% in less than a month since hitting a low of $8.98, it closed Friday 7th September at $13.26 HKD.
The Venetian did open on time with 3,000 hotel rooms, a theatre and a sports stadium, spread out over what the company says is the second-largest building in the world in terms of floor area. If the Venetian succeeds, according to analyst estimates, it will help double Macau’s annual gaming income to $13.7 billion by 2010.
Elsewhere in Asia the Taiwanese government plans to issue 3 casino permits. The maximum charter period has been set at 20 years, with operators required to pay a fee equivalent to 40 pct of their revenue, according to the proposal. The stake to be taken by foreign investors in any such venture will be capped at 60 pct.
Another country in Asia considering legislation for casinos is Japan and American Steve Wynn may turn to his old friend Kazuo Okada for help. Wynn turned to Kazuo Okada when the gambling magnate needed cash to fund his namesake Las Vegas casino in 2000. Now, Okada could be the ace up Wynn’s sleeve in the Japanese businessman’s home market. Wynn, Las Vegas Sands Corp., and Australia’s Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd. are among the companies pushing to open Japan to casinos. The government is considering legislation that could be approved within the next 12 months.
On the other side of Asia Goa has been regularly in the news in the last month, a little bit of everything here; Tourism, religion, agriculture, fisheries, and the American “Casino King of Nepal”, and a 13-metre-long casino boat. The problem is that 500 fishermen and around 5,000 dependents survive on the income generated from River Sal fishing resources they are up in arms that the river dredging need for the 13-metre-long casino boat will destroy their livelihood. How many tables, machines, customers and staff can a 13-metre-long casino boat hold? MV Caravella is the only vessel operating at the moment; the yacht is 215 feet long (65.5 m) and can accommodate 300 people. It has 11 table games.
Goa besides having the concept of off-shore casino — also have legislation which supports the opening of casino’s at five-star hotels with eleven five star hotels operating casinos under the Goa relaxation.
Scarab will report each month the previous month headlines here and has a daily Asian round up at Scarab Asia News page