Asian operators give Vegas casino titans run for their money

Tue Apr 17, 2012 2:56am EDT
 
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By Farah Master and Ronald Grover

MACAU/LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who became one of the world's richest men by creating a casino empire in Las Vegas and Macau, is doubling down on his bets in Asia, the hottest gambling market on the planet where his Singapore operation made $1 billion the first year it was opened.

The 78-year chairman of Las Vegas Sands (LVS.N: Quote), the world's biggest gambling company by market capitalization, looked supremely confident when he opened his new $4.4 billion casino last week in the former Portuguese colony of Macau, the world's largest gambling destination where bettors spent $33.5 billion last year compared to Las Vegas, which took in $6 billion.

Speaking at the opening of his Sands Cotai Central on April 11, Adelson outlined plans to spend billions more developing casinos in Vietnam, Korea and Japan, in addition to the $35 billion he plans to spend on a Spanish casino-resort complex.

Rivals Wynn Resorts (WYNN.O: Quote) and MGM Resorts (MGM.N: Quote) are also staking their own claims throughout Asia for growth.

It's not all an American story however. Asian players like Malaysia's Genting (GENT.KL: Quote) (GENS.SI: Quote), Hong Kong-listed Galaxy Entertainment (0027.HK: Quote) and Melco Crown 6883.HK (0200.HK: Quote), are aggressively raising the ante as they expand on their home turf.

RISE OF THE ASIAN TITAN

The race to conquer the Asian casino world is already heating up in the Philippines where Asian brokerage CLSA forecasts gambling revenue to grow from US$1.3 billion in 2011 to US$3 billion in 2015 once three new resorts are completed.

Genting, controlled by Malaysian businessman Lim Kok Thay, controls and is developing casinos in the Philippines through its Genting Hong Kong unit (0678.HK: Quote), while parent Genting Group is developing a casino in Vietnam with local asset management group VinaCapital, according to Vietnamese media.   Continued...

 
Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson speaks during a news conference at Sands Cotai Central, Sands' newest integrated resort in Macau April 11, 2012. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu