With the opening of Galaxy Macau and the completion of Sands Central Cotai (sites 5 and 6) early next year, it was time for the Macau government to approve the next casino resort project in its one-at-a-time approach. There were many candidates, including MGM China, SJM, Melco Crown (for its recently purchased Macau Studio City project) and Wynn Resorts. The Macau government has chosen the latter to build its third Macau casino.
The approval was no surprise since Steve Wynn, the chairman of Wynn Resorts, has been planning and designing the property for the past two years, commencing even before Encore at Wynn Macau debuted in 2010. Unlike Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts, Wynn has achieved a higher level of respect from Macau officials. His $100 million contribution to the University of Macau last spring likely encouraged officials to choose his project, even though Wynn Resorts was next in line, according to the timing of the announcement of the projects.
Under the deal for the approval, Wynn will be required to pay $193 million premium for the land. In addition, the project must be completed within 60 months. While the announcement did not include the number of table games, it did refer to a gaming area. And since the project will be completed after 2013, when the current table game cap expires, most analysts believe the casino will include between 400 and 500 tables.
Wynn’s description of the Cotai project makes it unlike any other Macau casino project. He talks about gardens and nature in a project that will cost about $2.5 billion. The company expects revenues to double once the Cotai project debuts in 2016.
In July, MGM Grand Macau CEO Grant Bowie said that the plans were complete and the company was ready to proceed. SJM has a site, but prefers the former sites 7 and 8 that were at one time controlled by Sands China. The Macau government refused to give permission for the company to develop those sites, and SJM would like to take them over. Melco Crown’s purchase of the Macau Studio City site is still mired in uncertainty as the government refuses to concede that the initial plans included a casino component. And it’s also not clear if the project would need an addition approval to begin construction since site preparation had already begun before the financing dried up.