Macau and Cotai Casino Operators
Prior to 2002, gambling in Macau was controlled by one person, Stanley Ho. In 2002, the government of Macau broke up Stanley Ho’s casino monopoly and awarded three valuable gambling concessions (licenses) from a pool of 21 applicants. Stanley Ho (SJM) was awarded one license, and two new entrants received concessions – Galaxy Entertainment and Wynn Resorts. Galaxy Entertainment had been working closely with Las Vegas Sands to jointly develop casino resorts in Cotai. However, Galaxy Entertainment and Las Vegas Sands had different visions and could not come to agreement on plans, so the government awarded Las Vegas Sands a sub-concession license so the company could pursue its development vision. To be fair, the government also awarded sub-concession licenses to Ho and Wynn. So SJM granted Stanley Ho’s daughter, Pansy Ho (who teamed up with MGM Mirage to form MGM Grand Paradise), its sub-concession license, and Wynn Resorts went on to sell its sub-concession license to Melco PBL (a joint venture between Stanley Ho’s son and Australia’s PBL) for a whopping US$900 million. Read more about the history of gaming and casino operation in Macau in the A.G. Burnett Testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission here.
Six Companies Currently Own and Operate Macau Casinos.
SJM (Stanley Ho)
Stanley Ho previously had a monopoly on the Macau gaming market until the laws were liberalised.
Galaxy Entertainment is a publicly traded company on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (Stock Code 27). Through its wholly owned subsidiary, Galaxy Casino, the company operates five casinos in Cotai and Macau and has one under construction.
Casino and Hotel Resorts
Galaxy’s flagship casino, the Galaxy Starworld, is located in the heart of the Macau Peninsula gaming hub. The 5-star hotel has a unique “Asian Heart” to match its unique shape, which helps make itself one of the most noticeable and memorable casinos in Macau. Under construction with a planned mid-2008 opening, the Galaxy GalaxyWorld Resort will be a mythically themed “must see” attraction just off the Cotai Strip. When its phase II expansion is complete in 2012, the Galaxy Cotai Mega Resort casino will truly live up to its “Mega Resort” name by offering 12,000 hotel rooms and 1,500 gambling tables. Galaxy Entertainment also operates four CityClub casinos in Macau, which are partnered with Macau hotels not owned by Galaxy. The CityClub Casinos are The Waldo Casino, The Rio Casino, and The President Casino on the Macau Peninsula, along with The Grand Waldo Casino in Cotai. The CityClub casinos are smaller, VIP oriented casinos that are partnered with Macau hotels to conveniently offer a full range of amenities.
Wynn Resorts is a publicly traded company on the NYSE (ticker symbol WYNN), majority owned by Las Vegas visionary Steve Wynn. The company opened the luxurious Wynn Macau on the Macau Peninsula in 2007 to rave reviews and has redefined Macau’s hotel casino landscape.
While the company controls 52 acres in Cotai, Macau, the company has yet to announce anything definitive regarding the development of their Cotai site. Wynn had previously stated that the company would do a joint venture to develop the Cotai site, but has since changed plans and now appears to be developing the site itself with a possible 2009 opening. The Cotai land plot is large enough to build more than one casino resort if the company chooses.
MGM Grand Paradise
MGM Grand Paradise is a 50/50 joint venture between the US publicly traded casino company MGM-Mirage (MGM on NYSE) and Stanley Ho’s daughter, Pansy Ho.
MGM United States
MGM-Mirage is mainly a Las Vegas casino owner and operator that formed over the years through the acquisitions of Steve Wynn’s old Mirage, and more recently Mandalay Bay Group. The company’s best known Las Vegas Strip properties are the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, Mirage, and Treasure Island, and is also building the US $9 billion City Center on the Las Vegas Strip.
MGM Macau and Cotai
MGM Grand Paradise owns a hotel casino resort on the Macau Peninsula called MGM Grand Macau. In February 2007, the MGM Grand Paradise announced its plans to begin planning a second casino resort somewhere in Cotai. The company has not disclosed much detail regarding the project. At this point the size and exact location of MGM Grand Paradise’s Cotai unknown.
Las Vegas Sands
Las Vegas Sands is a publicly traded casino company on the NYSE that trades under the ticker symbol LVS. The company is majority owned by the second wealthiest person in the world, Sheldon Adelson.
LVS Casinos and Hotels
In Las Vegas, the company owns the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino on the Las Vegas Strip, along with the integrated Sands Expo Center and the adjacent Palazzo Casino that is currently under construction.
In Macau, Las Vegas Sands ushered in a new era of Macau tourism and gambling with the opening of its beautiful Sands Macao on May 18, 2004 on the Macau peninsula. Before the Sands Macau opened, Macau gambling was monopolized by Stanley Ho, who ran mostly old, unspectacular gambling casinos. In addition to the Sands Macau, Las Vegas Sands is building its soon to be flagship casino in Macau, the Venetian Macao, along with the infrastructure of the Cotai Strip. The company is also planning a multi-billion dollar tourism and MICE project on Hengqin Island, China, which is just a stone’s throw from Cotai, Macau.
The company is also developing casinos in Singapore, Pennsylvania and continues to pursue international expansion of its growing casino empire.
Melco PBL Entertainment (Macau) Limited is a 50/50 joint venture between Melco International Development and Australia’s Publishing and Broadcasting Limited that is publicly traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange under ticker symbol MPEL. Melco PBL operates six Mocha Slot parlors throughout Macau, is building two new casinos in the Cotai area of Macau, and is planning a third casino on the Macau peninsula.
Melco PBL Casinos
The luxurious Crown Macau in Taipa, scheduled to open in 2007, will call itself Macau’s first six-star resort. Melco PBL’s underwater themed USD$2 billion City of Dreams casino will open its first phase in 2008 and become one of Cotai’s “must-see” attractions. In addition, Melco PBL has land set aside for a third casino that is currently being called the Macau Peninsula Project, and the company will also manage the casino operations for eSun’s Cotai Strip project, Macau Studio City, once it opens.
Melco PBL Mocha Slots
Melco PBL owns six separate Mocha Slot parlors located throughout Macau and Cotai. The slot parlors are small in size and usually located in hotels.
Other Macau and Cotai Casino Brands
You will also see other companies and brands mentioned, such as Four Seasons, Hard Rock, and eSun. If the company mentioned is not one of the six concessionaires listed above, then the company will not own or manage its own casino. The company will need to get one of the six concessionaires to actually run the casino aspect of the resort. Or in some cases, it is just a company licensing its brand to another company, as is the case with the Hard Rock.