International edition
September 20, 2020

The firm bought a majority stake in the Studio City project last year

Melco’s Macau Studio City not to include a casino

(Macau).- Macau casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment still doesn't have permission to build a casino at its latest project, according to a revised government contract published Wednesday in the Official Gazette. The plot, with an area of 130,789 sqm, is earmarked for the development of a five-star hotel, plus movie industry-related facilities, the contract states.

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elco Crown’s CEO Lawrence Ho Yau Lung accepted the contract terms in a written statement presented to the government on June 13, it is said. It is however unclear at this stage if the decision is definitive or if Melco Crown is still applying to be allowed to include a casino in the project.

The Macao Studio City project, in which Melco Crown has a 60% equity interest, is designated for a five-star hotel and film facilities, indicates the latest government contract detailing various revisions to the agreement. But the document doesn't mention any casino facilities despite the company's earlier statements they hope to open up to 400 gambling tables at the property. It's possible the government could give the green-light on a casino later, but the uncertainty could complicate the company's efforts to finance the project.

Melco Crown, backed by Lawrence Ho and James Packer-the sons of Macau gambling tycoon Stanley Ho and the late Australian casino-and-media magnate Kerry Packer-is one of six casino license holders in Macau, where it already runs two casino-resort properties in the world's largest gambling hub. A representative for Melco Crown didn't respond to requests for comment.

In June 2011, Melco Crown signed a us$ 360 million deal to gain control over the Macao Studio City project, resolving a bitter dispute between the project's earlier partners that had escalated to the Hong Kong courts, stalling development for years. New Cotai Holdings, an arm of U.S. investment firms Oaktree Capital Management and Silver Point Capital, retained its 40% stake in the project.

Earlier this month Melco Crown announced plans to enter the burgeoning Philippines market by teaming up with local property developer Belle Corp. to partner on a casino resort that will cost at least us$ 1 billion in an area the Philippines hopes will become Manila's version of the Las Vegas Strip.

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