International edition
June 24, 2021

According to casino tycoon Steve Wynn

Macau may slow development of gambling

(Macau).- Macau may be moving to slow development in the fast-growing casino center, according to gambling mogul Steve Wynn. The southern Chinese city's government met Monday with representatives of the six companies that operate its casinos, including Wynn Resorts Ltd.

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I've got a feeling that the government's going to tamp it (Cotai) down," Wynn, the company's founder and CEO, said in an interview with Reuters. He was referring to the Cotai Strip, a swathe of land some Macau developers have touted as the next Las Vegas Strip. "If they limit the amount of (gaming) tables there is no reason to build any more," he said.

Wynn said Chinese officials appear to be chiefly concerned with the disruption that overbuilding could potentially inflict on workers in Macau. "The government wants to keep everybody calm while they provide jobs and industrialize the country," he said.

According to a statement posted on the city's official website, the former Portuguese enclave is considering rules, to be drafted in two to three months, that would impose limits on table numbers and raise the age for gambling to 21 from 18. "We are very much in favor of it," said Wynn, whose company currently operates one luxury casino hotel in Macau and will open a second, called Encore Macau, on April 1.

Wynn said his representative at the meeting suggested that the number of table games for each operator be capped at 1,500, while others proffered a number as low as 1,000. Las Vegas Sands Corp, which operates two Macau properties, already has more than 1,000 table games.

Sands, like Wynn, has longer-term plans to expand development on the Cotai Strip. Wynn suggested that the government may have become alarmed at the impact of the recent financial collapse on Macau workers, many of whom were laid off.

He said Macau officials at Monday's meeting also asked the operators to return workers to a 48-hour work week, up from the 40-hour week four of them, but not Wynn, have implemented. Wynn took advantage of the consequent surge in positive investor sentiment last week when it sold 25 % of its Macau operations in an initial public offering of Wynn Macau Ltd in Hong Kong that raised nearly us$ 1.9 billion.

The South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday that Las Vegas Sands, which is seeking to raise up to us$ 2.5 billion from a listing of its Macau assets, could launch its initial public offering by late November.

In addition to Sands and Wynn, Macau's casino operators include home-grown players Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd and SJM Holdings Ltd. The other two are Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd - a joint venture between Melco International Development Ltd and Australian Crown Ltd - and a casino jointly operated by Las Vegas-based MGM Mirage and local businesswoman/tycoon Pansy Ho.

Wynn said Macau appears to have no plans to issue additional gaming concessions.

Macau rocketed onto the global gambling stage following reforms that put an end to a long-time monopoly held by Stanley Ho. The Chinese territory generated us$ 13.5 billion of gross gaming revenue in 2008, more than double the us$ 6 billion generated by the Las Vegas Strip during the same period.

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