Grand Waldo Casino Opens in Macau

Macau (AP) – Macau opened its second new casino in a month Friday, with the Grand Waldo Casino and Hotel celebrating its official start in the Chinese territory that may soon replace Las Vegas as the world’s gambling epicenter.

The 3.2 billion Hong Kong dollars (USD 410.7 million) casino project includes a 318-room hotel and an entertainment complex with a nightclub and a six-story spa. The casino features 100 tables, 334 slot machines and an additional 68 tables for high rollers in VIP rooms decorated with golden dragons.

A traditional lion dance was performed and incense was burned to mark the opening of the resort, owned by the Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. The firm is controlled by Hong Kong construction tycoon Lui Che-woo.

Francis Lui, vice president of Galaxy Entertainment Group, told reporters, „’06 is a very rewarding year for Galaxy Group. So far this year we have opened three casinos. With the opening of Grand Waldo, we expect we should be able to comfortably maintain the same market share and further increase it.“

Galaxy opened two smaller casinos in Macau earlier this year. The group’s share of Macau’s gaming market has jumped from 9 percent last year to nearly 20 percent as of August, Lui said.

Galaxy is planning to invest a total 8 billion Hong Kong dollars (USD 1.02 billion) in Macau by 2008, the group said. The Grand Waldo is its third in the territory, and the company plans to open another complex — the StarWorld Hotel and Casino — on Oct. 19. It’s also building the Galaxy Mega Resort, which hasn’t announced an opening date yet.

Macau — a peninsula and two islands off the southeastern Chinese coast — is the only place in China that allows casino gambling. The tiny territory, less than one-sixth the size of Washington, D.C., was a Portuguese enclave until it was handed back to China in 1999.

The Waldo’s opening came just weeks after Las Vegas gambling tycoon Stephen Wynn threw open the doors on his Wynn Macau, a USD 1.2 billion resort with a 600-room hotel, casino and shopping esplanade.

Many believe that Macau will soon overtake the Las Vegas Strip as the world’s casino capital. Last year, Macau was about even with the Las Vegas Strip, which had income of USD 5.3 billion.

Macau is home to more than a dozen casinos, with more mega-projects set to open in the next few years. The current gaming market is dominated by tycoon Stanley Ho’s gambling flagship, followed by Las Vegas magnate Sheldon Adelson’s Sands Macau casino.