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Macau welcomes 2 new casinos
Updated: 2005-02-08 09:06

Two new casino halls opened for business in Macau yesterday, aimed at the tourists arriving during the Lunar New Year travel spree.

The renovated Fortuna Casino at the former Fortuna Hotel became the 15th casino owned by Macau tycoon Stanley Ho's gaming empire. The casino next to Ho's flagship casino - Hotel Lisboa - is a small-scale casino offering 35 gaming tables.

On the same day, Macau's first Las Vegas-invested casino Sands Macau added the "Pearl Room," a new themed luxury gaming room, hosting 40 gaming tables in addition to 180 slot machines.

Ho's Macau Gaming Co Ltd is experienced in promoting business during holidays.

It opened the Casa Real Casino last year to coincide with the bumper holiday season of China's National Day, and the Greek Myth Casino during the Christmas and New Year season.

Both are renovation projects on the company's former assets.
By updating his casinos, Ho is rising to the challenge from his rivals, the Venetian, which owns the Sands Macau, and the Hong Kong-based Galaxy that runs the Galaxy Waldo Casino.

The gaming city is experiencing its best-ever economic growth period. In January, Macau's 16 casinos generated 3.6 billion patacas (US$450 million) in total gross revenue, an increase of some 20 percent over the same month last year.

A senior economic official hinted that "18" to "19" would be the maximum number of casinos for Ho, who had monopolized Macau's gaming industry for 40 years before 2002.

Francis Tam Pak Yuen, secretary for economic and finance of the Macau Special Administrative Region government, who oversees the gaming sector, said the government was exchanging views on the issue with Ho's company.

Some industry insiders believe that following the gaming sector liberalization, the total number of casinos in Macau will reach about two dozens by the end of the decade.

Macau's legislation on gaming business limits the number of casino-operating concessions to three.

However, the number of casinos or sub-concessions that each of the three concessionaires may run is not specified by law.
Macau is the only city in China where gambling is legal. The first gaming businesses were licensed around 1847.

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