Las Vegas Strip casino giants Park Place Entertainment Corp. and Mandalay Resort Group have joined the race for a gaming license in the Chinese coastal city of Macau.
Park Place spokesman Robert Stewart said this morning that his company and Mandalay have jointly applied for a gaming license in Macau. The two companies submitted a tender bid through an entity called MP Entertainment, one of 21 contenders for three licenses in the former Portuguese colony.
He declined further comment and Mandalay officials could not be reached for comment.
The two companies are the latest in a crowd of contenders for the Macau licenses from Las Vegas. MGM MIRAGE, Steve Wynn’s Wynn Resorts and Venetian owner Sheldon Adelson have also submitted offers for a Macau license.
Another bidder with apparent Las Vegas connections is Las Vegas East Macau Ltd. This company is linked to Macau-Las Vegas East Development Corp., a Nevada corporation.
Records with the Nevada Secretary of State list the company’s president as Emmett Munley, and its secretary and treasurer as George Johnson. The address given for the company is Johnson’s downtown Las Vegas law firm.
Johnson could not be reached for comment.
“Any operator that tries to bring high-end play from overseas to its Las Vegas properties would rationally be interested in a gaming license in this market,” said Robin Farley, gaming analyst with UBS Warburg. “It’s putting an outpost close to where the high-end players come from.”
Park Place serves high-end customers primarily through Caesars Palace, but it isn’t considered as big a player in the Asian high roller business as MGM MIRAGE, the Venetian or Steve Wynn, analysts said.
Still, “it would be strange for such a big gaming – Sg Online Casino market to open and them (Park Place) not to be there,” said analyst Jason Ader of Bear Stearns.
Mandalay’s been even less of a player in the high-end business with its mid-market Strip properties, though the company’s been more focused on these efforts with Mandalay Bay.
“For a small investment, should they be successful, this gives both Park Place and Mandalay an ability to grow their high-end Asian business,” said Andrew Zarnett of Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown.
But they aren’t the favorites, Zarnett said.
“MGM MIRAGE has the greatest probability of winning a license, given (Chairman and Chief Executive) Terry Lanni’s strong relationship with the Asian high-end market for over two decades,” Zarnett said.
The Macau government, in an effort to break up a monopoly held by casino mogul Stanley Ho, plans to award three 20-year gaming licenses sometime this month. The government has said it will consider such factors as experience in the gaming industry, overall interest in the Macau market and investment plans.
Macau’s 10 casinos, all owned by Ho, gross an estimated $2 billion a year in gaming revenues.