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Hard men reign in Packer's dream

23 September 2009

MACAO -- As reported by Business Day: "The sparkling bars and boutique stalls at James Packer's City of Dreams casino are deserted.

"But the noodle bar, thanks to a permanent $1 deal, is doing a roaring trade.

"On the sprawling gaming room floors, casually dressed families from mainland China are hunched over baccarat tables, their fingers squeezing the life out of their cards to bring good luck.

"In Macau, southern China, where gaming revenue has now roared ahead of Las Vegas and Atlantic City combined, the old rules of squeezing money out of punters do not apply.

"'They don't drink, and they don't like to waste money on consumption when they could be investing it on the baccarat table,' said Glenn McCartney, who runs Macau casino tourism consultancy Insights Unlimited.

"If James Packer, and his partner Lawrence Ho, have the model right - as Packer clearly believes he does - then his $3 billion make-or-break play at the City of Dreams will redeem his name after several catastrophic bets.

"...Packer and Ho have learnt their lessons hard. Their Crown Macau casino flopped after it opened in June 2007..."

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