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AUGUST REVENUES ARE RAISING TEMPERATURES destination-macau.com

Revenue figures for the first eighteen days of August have shown that the Macau gaming market is on track to break its record month of January 2008, when it earned MOP10.4 billion, according to DM.  Ominously, however, the Liaison Office of the Central Government’s Zhuhai branch has reportedly set up a special division to monitor the link between the mainland’s fiscal stimulus program and gaming revenues in Macau.

DM sees the VIP customers as being the likely target of any action by Beijing; they are most responsible for bringing all those revenues to Macau.  The junket business is ferociously competitive and constantly evolves as political and economic winds change.  DM believes that the current environment is working favorably for the junkets and their ability to extend credit and keep business coming to their VIP rooms.  However, it certainly won’t last forever, which is all the more reason for junket operators to take full advantage of the current credit splurge. 

Upcoming events in China that are worth keeping in mind include: the 60th anniversary of modern China on October 1 and the 10th anniversary of Macau’s return to the motherland on December 23rd (also the day when the new chief executive takes office).  DM believes Beijing will allow some time for the new CE to settle in, and for these big parties to pass, before any possible tweaking of visa restrictions.

HO SUCCESSION SCENARIOS GRIP GOSSIP-RAGS destination-macau.com

In light of Dr. Stanley Ho’s illness, rumors are surging through various media outlets guessing what his condition is and who, if needed, will replace him.  Many family members will be involved in any future debate over Ho’s assets.

It is more likely that they would fight over control of STDM, and therefore SJM, than over money.  Controlling STDM is about power and influence; it is a relatively minor component of Dr. Ho’s financial empire.  Pansy and Lawrence, the two most likely successors, are both already concessionaires in Macau and will not be allowed, by law, to take over STDM while maintaining their current positions.  DM believes that Pansy could get bought out of MGM or Lawrence Ho could possible try to merge Melco-Crown and SJM, (seen as his position with Melco-Crown is valuable given the company’s land and VIP market share).  

There is a lack of legislation in Macau to cover any of these scenarios, which is why Fernando Chui Sai-on has a difficult job ahead should Dr. Ho not recover.

INVESTORS UP ANTE AS ANALYSTS BULLISH ON SINGAPORE scmp.com

Analysts have recently published bullish reports on Singapore’s potential as a gaming market, with estimates suggesting that its two casinos would be able to generate about US$3 billion in winnings per year.  That would be just under 25% of Macau’s thirty-two properties’ revenue in the twelve months to June 2009 and just over half of the US$5.66 billion that forty-one casinos, slot halls, and bingo parlors on the Las Vegas Strip generated in the same period. 

At nearly US$6 billion each, the Marina Bay Sands and the Resorts World Sentosa will be two of the world’s three most expensive casinos (after MGM’s CityCenter at US$9 billion). 

WYNN SELL-DOWN SEES OKADA AS FIRM’S BIGGEST SHAREHOLDER scmp.com

The biggest shareholder of Wynn Resorts is now Kazuo Okada’s Japanese pachinko operator Aruze.  Mr. Okada now owns 19.9% of the company. Chairman and chief executive Steve Wynn now owns 18% of the company after selling down two million shares at US$57 per share to raise US$114 million in cash. 

The Wynns are getting divorced and, according to a statement from the company, “the shares were sold to provide liquidity in anticipation of the change in their marital status”. 

TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS TO EASE BETWEEN GUANGDONG AND MACAU macaodaily.com

The Macao Daily reported that discussions between the Chairman of the Macau Tourism Council, Wu King Kong, and local tourism agencies  have indicated that Guangdong will relax travel restrictions to Macau to once per month starting on September 1.

MAIDS PROTEST AGAINST BILL TO CURTAIL “JOB-HOPPING” scmp.com

Filipino and Indonesian maids in Macau are campaigning against a bill that would ban them from the city for six months if their contracts are terminated.  The bill also features a levy on employers of all imported workers.  Lawmakers will debate the bill in the next few months.