|Shares in casino operators with properties in Macau have risen dramatically following news that the Chinese enclave will halt issuing casino licenses for the foreseeable future.|
Edmund Ho, the Chief Executive for Macau, told lawmakers this week that no additional casino concessions or sub-concessions would be issued. He also stated that the government would not approve any new applications from the territory's 28 casinos for additional gambling tables or slot machines.
The comments were seen as good news for companies already with a foothold in the booming gambling enclave 40 miles west of Hong Kong, the only area in China with legalised casinos.
But, this could keep the world’s largest casino operator by revenues, Harrah's Entertainment Incorporated, from securing a license in Macau along with stalling plans to rezone a golf course purchased by a subsidiary in September. A spokesperson for Harrah’s, which is changing its name to Caesars Entertainment Corporation, stated that the company's plans to run a world-class golf course ‘have not changed’.
Ho stated that casino liberalisation had helped stabilise Macau's economy and improve living conditions. Macau rivals Nevada in gambling revenues and pulled in more than $10.3 billion last year in profits. That was up from 2006’s $6.95 billion when revenues on the Las Vegas Strip were $6.69 billion.
'We're now at a stage to review and estimate the development of the industry,' said Ho.
The former Portuguese colony opened its doors to Las Vegas-style casinos after ending a four-decade gambling monopoly held by casino magnate Stanley Ho in 2002. Since then, the territory has approved six casino licenses to several operators, both foreign and domestic.