SJM to build casino resort at Cotai

Stanley Ho's flagship acquiring land on strip that's prime destination for tourists to Macau

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 October, 2012, 11:27am

Macau casino operator SJM has finally secured a piece of land at Cotai. It is the last to do so among the six gaming companies that are authorised to operate casino games in the enclave.

The flagship company of gaming tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun said last night it has accepted a land concession contract from the Macau government and plans to build a casino resort on the Cotai site.

"The board considers that the acceptance … represents a milestone development for the group," SJM said in a filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange.

It said it intends to apply to the Macau government to operate 700 gaming tables and 1,000 slot machines, as well as a five-star hotel with 2,000 hotel rooms.

SJM will pay 2.15 billion patacas for the land. It will make a down payment of 800 million patacas in cash. Construction will begin after the publication of the land concession contract in the official gazette and is expected to take up to 36 months.

SJM is the largest casino operator in Macau in terms of gaming revenue and number of casinos, the only place in China where casino gaming is allowed. The firm operated 17 casinos and three slot machine lounges, comprising more than 1,700 gaming tables and more than 3,700 slot machines, at the end of June, the firm's interim report said.

However, SJM has no presence yet at Cotai, which is becoming the preferred gaming and shopping destination for mainland tourists to Macau.

The site, covering 70,000 square metres, will enable SJM to expand its operations from the Macau peninsula to the Cotai strip. Its rivals, including Sands China, Galaxy Entertainment and Melco Crown Entertainment already operate facilities at Cotai, while Wynn Macau is building a US$4 billion project, which is expected to open in 2016.

MGM China, a joint venture between Ho's daughter Pansy Ho Chiu-king and MGM Resorts International, said on Thursday it would develop a five-star luxury resort and casino with 500 tables in Cotai.

Separately, Melco Crown Entertainment, the casino joint venture of Australian billionaire James Packer and Ho's son Lawrence Ho Yau-lung, said its 60 per cent-owned indirect subsidiary, Studio City, has entered into a commitment letter with lead arrangers for US$1.4 billion in senior secured credit facilities, expected to consist of a US$1.3 billion delayed-draw term loan facility and a US$100 million revolving credit facility.