Packer unveils new casino in Macau

James Packer unveiled his latest AUD 700 million casino hotel at a lavish party for 1700 guests in the Chinese gambling mecca of Macau.

Crown Macau, the newest foreign addition to Macau’s thriving gambling industry cost USD 583 million (AUD 706.88 million) to build, and features a 36-storey tower with 216 hotel rooms, 220 gaming tables and 500 slot machines.

The megalithic ’six-star‘ casino was bankrolled by Melco PBL, a joint venture between PBL, which Mr Packer has controlled since the death of his father Kerry Packer in December 2005, and Hong Kong-listed Melco is run by Lawrence Ho, the son of Macau gaming magnate Stanley Ho.

It is the latest casino hotel to take advantage of relaxed gaming regulations on the island of Macau, which has a population of about 500,000.

Macau has recently outstripped Las Vegas to become the the gambling centre of the world.

The small former Portuguese colony’s century-old gaming market was given a boost in 2001 when the removal of a 40-year gambling monopoly from tycoon Stanley Ho resulted in a flood of investment from American operators.

Las Vegas Sands billionaire Sheldon Adelson led the charge with the Sands Macau, opened in 2004, and his Venetian company has been busy building a huge gaming district that will eventually house some 20 casino-hotels.

Wynn Macau was the second US gaming venue and the first integrated casino and hotel resort to open.

The island’s casinos pulled in USD 7.2 billion (AUD 8.73 billion)in revenue last year, outstripping the USD 6.6 billion (AUD 8 billion) reported in Las Vegas, to become the world’s biggest casino draw.

Apart from Crown Macau, the Melco-PBL consortium is also planning a large integrated resort to be known as the ‚City of Dreams‘, due to open in late 2008.

The joint venture had also acquired a site on the Macau Peninsula on which a third hotel and casino project will be developed for a 2009 opening.