|Las Vegas Sands Inc. expects to sign up investors as early as this year for a $12 billion row of casino hotels in Macau, replicating the U.S. gambling Mecca created by Brooklyn-born gangster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel. |
The company, which plans to build in Macau an $800 million duplicate of its Venetian complex in Las Vegas, will pitch plans this week for 20 Macau casino hotels, at a Singapore conference organized by Jones Lang LaSalle, its consultant on the project.
Macau's government gets about two-thirds of its income from gambling-related taxes. Travel-related companies are forecasting an increase in visitors to the city after a 29-mile bridge connecting Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai in southern China is built.
'There are some 400 investors in Singapore that we'll be meeting with in the next two or three days, and many are follow- up meetings,' William Weidner, President of Las Vegas Sands, said in an interview. Macau is “poised to be Asia's Las Vegas”, Weidner said he will tell prospective investors.
Attracting investors is crucial for Las Vegas Sands, which will bear initial land and infrastructure costs for the proposed Macau gambling strip. As one of three licensed casino operators in Macau, Las Vegas Sands would manage the casinos at the hotels.
“The company expects to grab half of the $3 billion Macau gambling market expected to double in size in three to five years,” Weidner said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. The company is also building a separate $225 million, 50-suite casino hotel in downtown Macau.
The former Portuguese colony, which reverted to Chinese rule in 1999, is the only place where the 1.3 billion people of mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong can legally gamble in casinos.
Las Vegas Sands will compete for Macau's punters against Stanley Ho -- the 81-year-old Asian billionaire who last year lost his four-decade monopoly on casino gambling in the city -- and Steve Wynn, developer of the Mirage and Bellagio in Las Vegas.