A palace like no other
A Macau gaming company controlled by billionaire Stanley Ho’s family has made an investment in a privately held casino and hotel operator that values the business at HKD30 billion said to be 5 billion more than initially planned. Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM) held the ground-breaking ceremony yesterday for its latest resort project: Lisboa Palace.
The move is thought to be aimed at rolling back the encroachment of foreign competitors which are aggressively expanding their casinos in Macau based on their Las Vegas model – the world’s largest gaming market by annual revenue. The chairman of the Board of Directors, Ambrose So, has emphasized Lisbon Palace’s unique design as a way to differentiate it from it’s foreign competition. emphasising that it’s design is unique and “cannot be found in any other parts of the world”. Whether this will be enough to reverse the steadily declining market share of SJM, could be called into question by the billions of US dollars been spent by Sands China, Galaxy Entertainment and Wynn Macau on their increasing expansion in Macau.
The Lisboa Palace will initially be built on a 70,500 square-meter site but the company is planning to acquire a stake in an adjacent site owned by Leong – which will triple the size of the resort. Ambrose So revealed that the company will be finalizing the deal before the end of this year. Ambrose So Shu-fai the chief executive was quoted as saying
We hope that all together these sites can offer more family and recreational facilities, creating a synergy effect, but we don’t want to disclose any further details now, The amount of investment has surged by HK$5 billion in a year, leading to a construction cost of about HK$60,000 per square meter,.”Now that the costs of construction materials and labor have risen, we believe a HK$30 billion price tag is more realistic.”
As in Hong Kong the topic of labor shortage inevitably emerges, which has lead to Mr Ambrose So to call for a more balanced labor policy. saying that he understands the Macau government’s policy.
Currently, casino dealers can only be hired if they are residents. “The government knows about the [ labor shortages], so there must be a policy that satisfies the requirements, even during construction works,” said Ambrose So, who also added that the gaming operator will conduct an assessment to evaluate where there is a labor shortage. “SJM would like to develop, but without manpower we can’t do it,” he added.
With the intention to reserve more job posts for residents SJM’s chairman of the Board of Directors assured the media that the company intends to reserve more job posts for residents. But at also called for “a balance.” saying that “We need to reserve places for the people of Macau but we could also partially import some more experienced people,”