In what seems to be heating up as a battle between giants in gambling, Galaxy Entertainment this week has opened the newest big name, big game Macau casino. Macau’s big plans have centered on a man-made landfill, in the glitzy Cotai area of Macau.
Macau, once a colony of Portugal, has seen its fortunes rise as a commercial gateway for tourists and high rollers. The rise of Macau gaming really began in 2002, when the government broke the monopoly enjoyed by magnate Stanley Ho.
Dubbed the Galaxy Macau, guests lined up for hours yesterday, before entering a state of the art casino and entertainment mega-plex. The estimated construction price tag for the Galaxy was more than $2 billion dollars. In a deliberate stand-off, Macau’s second largest casino by size (the Las Vegas Sands’ owned Venetian Macau) is right down the road from the Galaxy.
Included in the Galaxy are more than 2,000 rooms (with three hotels), 450 gaming tables, and 50 food and beverage services. To top it off, there’s literally a beach on the building: more than 350 tons of sand were lifted to the top of the Galaxy, to sit aside the rooftop wave pool.
The Galaxy is also a sign of feverish growth in China, as well as representing Hong Kong’s role of new capital for China’s expansion: Galaxy Group shares became a sought after item on the Hong Kong exchange this week, too.
Magnate Steve Wynn expects to raise the table stakes by opening a resort in 2015, as will MGM. For its part, the Sands attempted to water down Galaxy’s splashy opening with a press release touting its own imminent $4 billion expansion. The shift to Eastern casinos has already been remarkable. China’s total gaming revenue has exploded in the last decade. The total Chinese revenue is now four times that of the Las Vegas strip. Annual gaming revenue in Macau last year reached over $23 billion.
The dueling casinos saw a parallel dispute finally resolved amicably in the ownership of Stanley Ho’s extensive Macau properties, through his SJM Holdings, in highly publicized family squabbles. Ho, also interested in raising investment capital, this week announced SJM’s intention of opening new Cotai locations, pending approval of government land grants.
Increased disposable incomes in Asia will include not only Macau, but other Asian travel destinations, as well. Experts are predicting Singapore’s gaming revenue will also overtake Las Vegas this year.