New hotel in Macau may have new casino via service agreement
Planned Taipa hotel may have casino
Tony Lai | 23/10/2013 | in
Property with 373 high-end hotel rooms for plot next to Macau Jockey Club that’s been unused for years
A new hotel project next to Macau Jockey Club may have a casino, an executive from the venue’s management company said yesterday.
“If you want to have a nice property where you can relax, where you can go to a nice swimming pool, enjoy restaurants, party but also go to [a] casino, this is all what Hollywood Roosevelt is about,” said Christophe Vielle, chief executive of GCP Hospitality Management Ltd.
The mere mention of a casino raised eyebrows among media attending the ground breaking ceremony for the 373-room, HK$2 billion (US$256.4 million) Hollywood Roosevelt Macau hotel – reportedly being developed by Macau-based Yoho Group Ltd.
The surprise was because of the government’s apparent commitment to preventing proliferation of gaming venues created via so-called ‘service agreements’ with the city’s existing gaming concessionaires and sub-concessionaires.
Asked about whether the government had approved a casino at the venue, Mr Vielle said: “This will be discussed later on.”
He added: “I am [from] the hotel management company and in terms of casino you [the media] have to talk to the developer…I think the developer hopes to have a casino.”
Mike Lam In Wai, identified as from the management board of Yoho and a shareholder in Hollywood Roosevelt Macau, declined to take media questions yesterday. Mr Lam is also general manager of the Macau branch of Taiwanese airline TransAsia Airways.
After the event, Business Daily asked the local casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, about the reports of a casino on the site.
It said in an e-mailed statement: "The bureau, until now, has not received any application to open a new casino. According to the normal procedure, the bureau will carry out analysis on the project and review whether the project matches the requirements of setting up a casino once [the bureau] has received an application."
Macau’s first chief executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah in 2008 reportedly imposed a ban on any new so-called ‘service agreements’ – whereby the gaming licence rights of existing concessionaires could be spun off to allow third party investors to set up casinos in the territory.
The practice dates back to the days of Stanley Ho Hung Sun’s casino monopoly, when partnering with other investors was a way of sharing market risk and also offering the community a share in the erstwhile monopoly’s good fortune.
Nowadays the government’s stated policy is to limit the proliferation of gaming venues in a proven market that has been aggressively expanding revenue thanks to the contribution of mainland Chinese tourists.
But Edmund Ho apparently placed no limitations on existing or pre-approved service agreements. That’s seemingly on what local businessman David Chow Kam Fai was relying when he announced he was building another casino hotel using a Sociedade de Jogos de Macau SA licence at Macau Fisherman’s Wharf, and that his request for 350 new tables was “outside” the government’s table cap.
The Hollywood Roosevelt Macau plot covers 250,000 square feet (23,226 sq. metres). It will have 28,000 square metres of floor space with “5,000 square metres reserved for the gaming space”, according to the Chinese-language portion of the developer Yoho’s website.
The casino is not mentioned in the English-language section. The project will be ready by “mid-2015”, said Christophe Vielle yesterday.
Three plots next to Macau Jockey Club long are zoned but long-unused
Hollywood Roosevelt Macau will be on one of three land plots next to Macau Jockey Club. The parcels had been zoned for differing types of development prior to Macau’s handover from Portuguese administration in 1999, but had lain idle for more than a decade.
In August 2012 the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau issued maps determining the construction area, height and storey limits, access, and planning constraints applicable to the three plots. Business Daily has reviewed the documents online. None of them mention gaming.
Yesterday the newspaper asked the bureau for comment on the hotel’s gaming element and whether there was a possibility of all three plots being merged into one development. No reply was available by press time.
According to a news report by Chinese-language newspaper Cheng Pou in July, the hotel land plot has been held since before Macau’s 1999 handover by a firm called Sociedade Hoteleira Macau Taipa Resort. It is reportedly controlled by two British Virgin Island firms.
The newspaper named three people as administrators of Sociedade Hoteleira. Those same names – which include Mike Lam In Wai – featured in a press release issued yesterday by hotel developer Yoho Group Ltd and venue manager GCP Hospitality Management Ltd.
Two other long-idle plots next door – one zoned for residential use and the other for “non industrial” use – are directly associated with Macau Jockey Club, which was founded by Stanley Ho Hung Sun.
The club’s current executive directors include Mr Ho’s fourth consort Angela Leong On Kei and also Ambrose So Shu Fai. Both are also senior executives of Macau casino developer SJM Holdings Ltd.
Hong Kong property investment company Gaw Capital Partners is known to have bought the residential-zoned land from the Jockey Club although the precise date has not been reported. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (Macau) Ltd announced in November last year however that Gaw planned to invest in a low-density luxury development.
Jaime Carion, director of the land bureau, said this July there was “a taskforce” following up the progress of the three plots. He explained there was “a reason” the land had not yet been developed, but he declined to say what it was.
The "outside the government's table cap" comment is very relevant to Sands.
The table shortage precipitated by the caps is a big part of what I expect will allow Sands to significantly improve it's table productivity over the next 20 months, and leakage around the caps would only impair that effort.