Sands opens new Macau resort, and looks to Spain

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 April, 2012, 12:00am
 

Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson said he planned to invest US$35 billion to build gambling resorts in Spain, after opening the US$4.4 billion Sands Cotai Central in Macau yesterday.

Macau's newest addition stands opposite Adelson's The Venetian and is expected to strengthen Sands China's position on the Cotai Strip.

The Cotai Central project, which is opening in stages, has so far cost Sands US$4.4 billion and will climb to US$5 billion by the time it is finished, said Adelson. 'The total cost until now is US$4.4 billion, but who is counting?' he quipped.

Adelson said he plans to spend US$35 billion on a mini-Las Vegas strip in Spain, where he is looking at Barcelona and Madrid as possible locations. The planned casino complex will be a five- to 10-year project.

'We are looking at 12 integrated resorts, 3,000 rooms each - a mini Las Vegas, about half the size of the Las Vegas strip, in Spain for the European market,' said Adelson.

In Asia, Adelson said he would continue to develop integrated resorts. 'We are looking to build two each in Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Taiwan is late in catching up.'

Sands is opening the first phase of the Sands Cotai Central project, which features a Holiday Inn hotel with more than 1,200 rooms and a Conrad hotel with 636 rooms. When the next two phases are completed - the third is scheduled to open in a year - a total of 5,800 hotel rooms will have been added, as well as 300,000 square feet of gambling space and 1.2 million sq ft of shopping, entertainment, dining and convention facilities.

Edward Tracy, chief executive of Sands China, said Sands Cotai Central would provide a wide choice in entertainment, shopping and accommodation to consumers with all kinds of tastes and budgets.

In February, Macau saw 2.13 million visitors, among whom 53 per cent were day trippers. Macau is the largest gambling destination in the world and the only place in China where gaming is legal.

'We expect our market share to grow' with Sands Cotai Central, said Tracy, but he would not put a figure on the increase. Sands China, which owns The Venetian Macau, Sands Macao and The Plaza, currently has about a 16 per cent share of the market.

For the new project, Sands China has hired 6,000 employees, over 4,000 of whom are from Macau.

Macau's gross gaming revenue in March amounted to 25 billion patacas, up 24.4 per cent year on year, according to official statistics.

The gaming market is expected to maintain this growth momentum this month, bolstered by the Ching Ming and Easter holdays and the launch of Sands Cotai Central.

A research note issued by Nomura this month said: 'Likely due to its phased opening approach, the promotional buzz for Sands seems to be slightly quieter versus Galaxy Macau last year, but we still expect the opening to be net positive for overall gaming revenue growth.'

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