Tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun said yesterday he was ready to give up his casino monopoly in Macau and had no plans to ask the Government for an extension of his franchise. Speaking for the first time since government sources made it clear the casino monopoly would end at the end of next year, Mr Ho, 78, said he welcomed the prospect of competition. Rival casino operators are expected to be granted licences to operate in Macau when Mr Ho's monopoly franchise granted by the Portuguese expires at the end of 2001. Mr Ho said last year he hoped the Government would give him an extension of between three to five years. But speaking at an RTHK prize presentation yesterday he said: 'It seems to me that the Macau Government does not want to discuss this with us any more. 'The news is still unconfirmed. The Macau Government has not made any comment . . . I am expecting the Government to say something . . . possibly at the end of the year.' Mr Ho said he did not intend to take any special measures in the face of competition. 'I have been running the casino business for 38 years,' he said. 'I will continue to run it as long as we can, even if we lose the monopoly. I welcome competition too. When there is competition, there is progress. 'The profit will be less than at present if we lose the monopoly, but I care about Macau. I will continue to invest in the enclave, especially in tourism, even if we lose the monopoly.' He would try hard to protect the jobs of his 10,000 staff. Mr Ho has teamed up with top gambling operator David Chow Kam-fai and plans to sign a $600 million deal to build a fishermen's wharf entertainment project. 'It is a very important tourist spot for Macau,' he said. 'Also, it can create about 2,500 job opportunities to relieve unemployment. 'We hope the whole project could be finished within 18 months. Our company takes 51 per cent of the project's shares and it is expected that profits would be made in three years.'