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Gaming Guru

Arnold M. Knightly
 

Harrah's may think of license for Macau

3 June 2009

LAS VEGAS, Nevada –- Harrah's Entertainment Inc., the world's biggest casino company, will be "interested" in applying for a gambling license in Macau if the government ends a freeze on new permits.

"As the largest gaming operator in the world, we have an interest in the largest gaming market in the world," Michael Chen, Harrah's Asia president, said Tuesday in an interview in Macau.

Harrah's Chairman and CEO Gary Loveman told the Review-Journal last week that the gaming company is interested in entering the Macau gaming market because the Chinese enclave is "close to a lot of customers Caesars has been in contact with for more than 40 years."

"It's the biggest market in the world," Loveman said. "I think it will be for as long as I can imagine."

The gaming company was shut out of the initial wave in which Wynn Resorts Ltd., Las Vegas Sands Corp. and MGM Mirage secured concessions or partnerships to run casinos.

"While the euphoric valuation placed on Macau has abated a bit in recent months, and the rate of growth has slowed very substantially, it is still a terrific market and one we'd like to be active in," Loveman said.

Harrah's, which owns a golf course in Macau, won't pursue acquisition opportunities in the city, such as unfinished resort projects and Las Vegas Sands Corp.'s malls, because they don't come with casino licenses, Chen said.

Macau, the only region in China where casinos are legal, stopped issuing concessions and resort building permits in April 2008 on concern the economy was overheating. Later, the global recession and credit-market freeze prompted Las Vegas Sands, Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. and other investors to slow or halt construction of partially completed properties.

Las Vegas Sands' unwillingness to sell its license limits the pool of potential buyers of its two shopping malls and condominium complex in Macau to real estate developers and investors, as casino operators won't be interested, Chen said.

Harrah's may think of license for Macau is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.