Macau May Reclaim Land From Casinos

23 March 2010

Fernando Chui, Macau’s Chief Executive, stated in a public policy speech that the Special Administrative Region of China may take back land promised to casino operators and use it for “other development purposes”.

Chui stated that the government would do everything in its power to reclaim land not being developed.

Several gaming insiders and analysts think this could be Chui’s way of slowing casino development, telling casino operators, most from Las Vegas, to submit plans for these sites or lose them. Most sites are on Macau’s Cotai Strip.

Chui stated: “The whole process will be made very transparent, but the land has to be taken back and some of it will be used for social housing”.

Gary Pinge, gaming analyst for Macquarie Securities told investors that the government wants to build residential properties in the middle to lower end market and that the reclaimed land could be put to that purpose. “Other than those casino developments already approved, any further applications for casinos will be tightly controlled,” Pinge said. “We believe that the underlying message is no further casinos will be built on Macau in the foreseeable future.”

Wynn’s $650 million Encore project is the only casino scheduled to open in Macau this year. Chui stated that new casinos would be allowed as long as they had approved construction plans.

Macau casinos collected $15.5 billion in gaming revenues in 2009, an increase of 14% from 2008.

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