Wynn Macau’s Cotai project

Wynn on Cotai

The reason I see for the recent strength in the shares of both Wynn Macau and its parent Wynn Resorts is a press report that 1128 will receive government approval this coming Monday for its proposed new casino in the Cotai section of the SAR.  The news was first published in the Portuguese-language newspaper Jornal Tribuna de Macau and subsequently in Macau Business.

According to MB, the contract signing ceremony will take place while Steve Wynn is in Macau next week, but the official announcement will not come until the contract is published in the Official Gazette in mid-May.


Twice before during the past several months, parties associated with WYNN have, prematurely, announced that the company had received approval for the project.  These breaches of protocol appear to have offended the Macau government and resulted in further delay each time.  In the current case, it appears to me that the leak must have come from the government itself, so the article shouldn’t matter.  When questioned about it, Mr. Wynn said nothing, just that he was hopeful of approval but that the decision was up to Macau.

The Wynn Cotai project, whose design was complete over a year ago, will include hotels, casino(s), restaurants, retail and convention/meeting space.  The size of the casino floorspace isn’t clear, although we know the Macau government is eager to see new projects contain a greater percentage of area devoted to non-gambling activities than has been the case to date.  The project will probably end up costing close to US$3 billion.  Opening could be in early 2016.

The Cotai casino would be good for WYNN and 1128…

Cotai, Sheldon Adelson’s idea for recreating the Ls Vegas Strip in Asia, is becoming the hot new gaming location in Macau.  Also, it’s increasingly evident that both Wynn and Encore in Macau are closing in on the limits of their capacity.  So the new project will provide a concrete (no pun intended) path for future earnings growth–both for 1128 and, by implication, for its parent WYNN.

…and for the SAR as well

After all, Steve Wynn is the premier casino designer in the world.  And his company is a master at catering to high roller gamblers.  It would make no sense for the SAR to deprive itself of his expertise.

approval for another firm coming later this year

The government’s overall idea is to continue to expand its tourism business, but at a controlled rate.  It has announced that this means approving two new projects in 2012.

The two prominent other applicants for permission to build a new Cotai casino complex are MGM China and SJM.  If they’re the two finalists, as they probably are, this presents an interesting–and possibly revealing– decision for the SAR.  SJM, the former monopoly casino operator when Macau was a Portuguese colony, which continues to control about a third of the market, is owned by the Ho family.  Pansy Ho also continues to have significant influence over MGM China, where she has about a 20% equity interest.  Declaration of the winner may give some insight into the direction of government gambling policy.

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