Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

Thanks to reader George, we have an interesting report and photos from a recent trip to Macau. The report is after the jump.

A couple of comments on the report:

* The Sands Macau actually does have a small hotel at the moment and they are planning to expand it to over a hundred rooms in the next few years.

* While the jury is very much still out on Wynn Macau, looking only at the cash volume through that place in the first days we have reported, a lot of money is moving around in that place. Assuming that keeps up and the basic math works, they have potential to make money... Potential.

* Wynn's Tryst - I was under the impression that it was open based on photos from the club and a few reports. Given this report, I'm now not clear as to its status.

* Craps - Too bad no games in Macau. People seem to generally consider it a dying game. Personally, it is by far my favorite. I have seem quotes from Wynn that imply that he believes the same is one of the last generation. Hopefully it is not dying off.

Overall I found the specific comparisons useful for folks like me who are used to Las Vegas/US casinos and who plan to visit Macau sometime in the near future.

I am working on posting the photos that were sent with this story. They will be up soon...

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I already wrote half a report, but realized that a travel guide is probably too much for most readers. Macau does not, and likely never will, rival Vegas for most of you. So I think its best to make it easy and cut straight to the action. If you want elaboration, please ask.

Macau before

Something must be said about what Macau was before the Sands and the Wynn arrived. My first visit to the city was mostly sightseeing. Macau does have some lovely sites and history outside of the gaming industry, something Vegas can likely never claim unless they find Hoffa’s body (then again that is somewhat gambling related). Toward the end I cajoled my gambling averse friend to at least walk in and see one. So we walked into what was the most luxurious one, the Casino Lisboa.

A phrase immediately came to mind, “What a dump”. To give regular Vegas goers a reference, take the Plaza, remove all the cleaning and maintenance crews, and fill it with people. Now consider all those people are gambling at once, no drinking, no strolling, no people watching. Finally take the size of the Plaza casino and shrink it in half but keeping the same amount of people (remove some of the tables). Throw into some rather aggressive whores and you have the Casino Lisboa.

One, if not the prime, reason for these facilities was the monopoly held by Stanley Ho. Now Mr. Ho has some competition.

The Sands

Given my past experience I was not expecting much actually. However my first stop, the Sands Macau, blew me away. A great Vegas style place, open airy, lots of space for walking around, and enough tables to handle the throngs. If I had to assign a theme, it would be generic Vegas with a little space age vibe.

What surprised me is the place still looked new, despite being open for a few years and on the receiving end of heavy usage. I was there on a Sunday afternoon/evening and the place was operating at near full comfortable capacity. Saturday night the place must be packed.

And what capacity it was. The Sands Macau operated hundreds, if thousands of tables (what games comes later). It is a two level facility, with most the casino on the second floor. The lower level is a smaller casino area as well as support rooms (offices, employee locker rooms, etc.). There is no Hotel here however.

The Wynn

I have not been to the Wynn in Las Vegas, but from what I saw in Macau I look forward to the visit. As you can likely guess there is a fountain doing a mini-Bellagio impersonation. The theme is somewhat European with primarily Mediterranean influences. Consider if the Golden Nugget was done with a European perspective.

The Wynn casino seemed smaller than the Sands, however it also had a hotel and set of luxury shops that would rival most Vegas casinos. The Wynn also used much more high-tech razzle-dazzle, such as LED betting limit signs and more computerized accounting methods used in the pit. Oddly however I also got the feeling that the casino personnel per gambler ratio was much higher at the Wynn.

The Wynn as well was also at its comfortable capacity level for the Sunday night I was there. At that level of use, I do not know how long the place may last. It may be just the look of the place (white always shows age easy), but it seemed like it was fraying at the edges after only a few months.

Games and other similarities

Both casinos were similar in their mix of games. By far the biggest game was Baccarat. Roulette was also found. Some slots were there, and more on that in a bit. Past that there are a couple games I never seen in Vegas and some you see Vegas experimenting with from time to time.

A quick note on familiar games to the Vegas goer outside the acres of Baccarat tables. The Sands seemed to be pushing two games Wynn was not. Unlike the Wynn the Sands had Blackjack and Caribbean Stud. Caribbean Stud had some interest and may have some traction here.

An Asian game popular in here that is not in Vegas is Sic Bo. You can think of Sic Bo as roulette played with three dice (you bet on odd/even, sum high/low, pairs, triples, combinations, etc.). From what I could tell the odds are probably equivalent to Roulette. Wynn had a more localized version called Fish Prawn Crab (no I am not making that up) that seemed to offer some better odds as I scanned the layout.

Speaking of more local games, the Sands as well were pushing two games that looked oddly familiar. One was some local variant of Wheel of Fortune. The other was Three Card Poker, which I have seen in Vegas looking like poker, however the guide to the game I glanced at quickly said it was more like Baccarat. Likewise the Wynn had a game called Double Fortune Baccarat which I have seen in Vegas before but have yet to understand how its different from normal baccarat.

In both places you could find table minimums at HK$100, or about US$12. Macau technically has its own currency, the Pataca (abbreviated MOP), however HK dollars are accepted throughout the city on a 1-to-1 basis (in turn the HK Dollar is pegged at around HK$7-8 per dollar). While you could find that minimum in both Casinos, the Wynn had fewer. Finally note that Roulette the bet minimums were HK$25, or US$3.50, at both places.

As has been said before, Slots are not too popular. In my last ill-fated visit to a Macau casino they were off to the side and placed haphazardly individually. They served mostly for the desperate who could not reach over three or four people to place a bet or for those looking to use the last of their change. However the brand spanking new all computerized numbers at the Sands and Wynn had some players and seemed somewhat popular.

However these are all just slots. There was no video poker, keno, or other of that sort. However, the Wynn did have a video version of Baccarat that looked interesting from a technical perspective.

Speaking of Keno, neither had a Keno room or a sports book. The last one is somewhat surprising given the passion for horse racing and European soccer in the area (both are bet on legally and illegally respectively). I think these limitations are legal and business relationship issues more than feasibility (I can elaborate if you want). A sports book should make it to Macau sooner or later I think.

Most disappointing for me is the absence of the two games I play the most. First, craps was nowhere to be found. Perhaps understandable given the specialization and training needed for the dealers as well as they general complexity of the game (then again they have trained dealers at the casino’s in the Casinos of the Philippines, a source of labor for HK and Macau). Second, and most surprising, there was no Pai Gow. I expected at least the domino version to be there, but nope.

I was also surprised, albeit slightly, that the Wynn did not have a poker room. Given the popularity (its even on the TV in Hong Kong) and Wynn’s fervor I expected at least an attempt. Alas, no poker game either for me.

Neither place had nightlife or entrainment options. However the Sands did have a lounge act at a bar in the Casino. Cheese factor was high for the area, but nowhere near Vegas levels. Interestingly the Wynn was due to open up a version of Tryst in Macau in mid-December. To promote the opening, they had two cute girls posing on a couch outside the lounge going though reconstruction. Perhaps an odd promotion in the US, but somewhat run of the mill for Asia.

One thing both casinos had that Vegas doesn’t is pretty heavy security. To enter both places you need to pass through a metal detector and have your bags searched (and mostly likely eventually checked). Do not expect to use things like cell phones or iPods in the Casino.

Perhaps the biggest difference and drawback from Vegas in Macau is drink service. I do not know why, but there is no alcoholic beverage service at the tables. You can get soft drinks and water, however service is pretty spotty. While both had some waitress, most drink service was carts of bottled water and hot tea (hey it IS China you know) being wheeled about or simply set out.

How did I do?

Well essentially I broke even in about five hours of play spread between both places. I played almost exclusively Baccarat, a game I have never played before. Surprisingly I enjoyed it. I may end up playing more of it in other places, however differently than how I ended up playing it in Macau. It’s not the rules, but the etiquette.

When I seen Baccarat in Vegas it seemed the more genteel game (the antithesis of my favored raucous craps table). Quiet, with people demurely flipping over cards. However in Macau player regularly shout in victory and loss. They also fold, bend, and otherwise mutilate the cards. I think one reason for this is to increase the excitement of revealing it a bit at time. However, I could never get the reason why a player would fold up a corner hard, see the card, and then fold it back down, furiously rub the card on the felt, and then fold it back up exasperated that it was the same card (a funny sight not be missed).

I was about to end the day about US$120 in the hole cashwise, however about half of that was from various tips so not really gambling losses (I will explain later). I wanted to leave the Wynn, but I had half a cigar left in my mouth and was unsure about going through security and the lobby with it (it was a rather expensive Cuban…ah the good side of not being in Vegas). So I plunked my self down at a 20 HK cent (think Nickel) slot machine. The rather bizarre layout allowed you play 20 lines at time, so I did. I never figured out how but after about 15 minutes I was up about US$60 from a US$3 buy in and I got the heck out of there.

Tipping, a lessons learned

I have never been a big tipper, and likely I have been treated accordingly in Vegas. I would usually flip a small chip to the waitress and my small change after a session to the table. So by habit I did the same thing as I left the table for the first time at the Sands.

The dealer and pit overseer (not a “boss” technically I think) were rather shocked to see the chips and the words “for the table”. In a way this is not too surprising, tipping is not too common in East Asia in general. Likewise, and much to the surprise of some visitors, tipping usually gets you nothing. Since there is no tip to work for normally, nobody puts out that extra effort to get one. Anyway, despite their surprise the dealer did know what to do with it and thanked me kindly.

Seeing this surprise and effusiveness at the Sands, I decided to try a bit more at the Wynn. I flagged down a waitress, got a coke, and gave her a HK$25 chip, or US$3.50 which is a pittance in Vegas at a place like the Wynn I would think. My glass was never empty until I left that table. When I found out, contrary to the guest services girl, they were rating players for the table games I passed another HK$25 chip with my player card. She thanked me, pointed out it really should go to the table, and eventually I got a HK$100 comp for the local version of the coffee shop.

What was notable with all this small tipping was not only the normal tip/service ratio, but also the fact that I was betting the HK$100 table minimum at the baccarat table, was only playing about an hour, and breaking even. I cannot see myself doing that at the Wynn Las Vegas and getting the same treatment (let alone the comp). It could have been tips, it could have been promotion in general, or it could have been both (was I serving as an example of a “proper” gambler at a Vegas style place for the locals to emulate?). My mind boggles at the generosity.

Final Thoughts

While both the Sands and the Wynn were filled and seeing good action, I do wonder how profitable they really are.

Despite stories, and perhaps stereotypes, to the contrary, I did not see any reckless betting. Baccarat was by far the game of choice, yet as any gambler could tell you Player and Banker have some of the best odds on the casino floor.

Again, slots were not too popular. Table games on the other hand are considerably more expensive to run from both a labor and administration angle. This overhead cuts into profits.

Now I know there are many saying these two casinos are almost printing money they are so successful. However I fail to see it that way. What I see is a lot of unused potential. I hope these two keep on pushing the boundaries of what can be done in Macau, both gambling and entertainment, to achieve their full potential.

With that I think the government of Macau needs to do more, specifically promotion. One great asset Las Vegas has is the Convention and Visitors Bureau. The folks that remind us to keep it in Vegas does a great service in promoting the general glamour of the place. They encourage things like TV shows of the best of Vegas and such. Macau needs an aggressive body like this, especially considering the past reputation (which includes a mob more bloody than Scarface’s coke-fueled dreams).

On the other hand, perhaps Sheldon Anderson’s attempt to monopolize the name “Cotai Strip” is a good thing. It may give not only some American swagger and savvy to the operation but also the fresh start needed to rebrand Macau.

What ever happens, it’s going to be interesting and now I look forward to visiting Macau again.


Read archived comments (45 so far)
December 6, 2006 2:15 AM Posted by George

Thanks for the added info.

Your hotel comment does explain why the Sands was adding an addition. However the addition is rather small and narrow. The site the Sands is actually a very small piece of space and attached to some land with some government buildings (including a huge courtyard). If the Sands really wants to make a mesa-resort out of this location they really need to blow it up and start over I think. That is unless the Sands property includes the waterfront land across the street where someone built some Disneyland-esque set of shops and attractions.

I do confirm Tryst at the Wynn is not yet open, the signs said it is to be open on December 15, 2006 however.

As far as profitability of the Wynn, it would not surprise me if the Wynn got smacked in the face with the local economic realities here. I think the Wynn really needs to figure out exactly how they are going to be profitable as the market (and the Chinese economy) develops. His bread-and-butter in the states are really upper middle class masses that are willing to pay. The Chinese economy has not produced many of those yet, and that slim segment that does exist really has not fully differentiated itself yet consumption wise.

December 6, 2006 2:29 AM Posted by Mike E

Thanks for the great read.

So from what I've seen in pictures and now understand from your report, most these baccarat tables are of the "midi" variant (blackjack sized table or slightly bigger with touchable cards). That, plus the fact that the minimums are so low, is refreshing to hear. In Vegas, you'd be hard pressed to find a midi game at under $100. The European variant (craps-sized table) is never under $300 at WLV. George, did you see any of the European variety baccarat in Macau?

December 6, 2006 4:55 AM Posted by Chris B

I've been in Tryst twice (including on the night in September when Wynn Macau opened), and so have a few of my friends. So unless they've closed it down in the last week for remodelling, then it is definitely open. I'm back in Macau next week so will take another look.

December 6, 2006 8:19 AM Posted by BrianFey

Thank You, nice TR. I don't know that the average person would see the major betting that goes on in these casino's. Much of the play is by whales and does not happen in plain view. There are private salons, and that is where much of the action is. I guess time will tell, but the numbers so far speak for themselves. Macau is profitable. If it turns out not to be, LVS and WYNN stock are going to fall faster than gravity!

December 6, 2006 12:23 PM Posted by George

Mike E> Yes they were all of the Mini variety. I forgot to add that detail. There were no traditional european style tables, however the "Double Fortune" vairety was of the larger table variety.

Chris> Could very well be. When I was there they were remodeling a space that as far as I could tell was labled simply "Lobby Lounge".

BrianFey> You bring up a very interesting point about the economics of operating in Macau that I wonder about. What exactly makes a "whale" for Macau. I would assume a true whale would affored/get comped, not to mention prefer, a trip to Vegas regardless. So then a whale in Macau would have to be of a smaller variety. One could argue US visa restrictions could be a factor at excluding whales, but from from what I have seen after living overseas for seven years now most of the visa rules still revolve around money and williness to come back features I am sure whales have.

You also make me remeber one intresting observation during my time there I probaly should have included. The VIP high limts areas at the Sands and Wynn were very much the same (Baccaratt with high minimums simular capacities), but the Wynn one had more people. I did get the distinct feeling that Sands was a bit down market, but not by much. Then again I also got the impression that Macau in general was a bit more down market from Vegas.

December 6, 2006 12:38 PM Posted by George Geddes

Forgot to add a couple things...

Mike E> I should emphasize that the $100 minimum was in Hong Kong Dollars, which works out to about $12 US Dollars. So minimums are much lower than Vegas (one reason the game always intimidated me was the high mins)

Chris> Since you go there a lot, any impressions you have of the comps system would be interesting to me. I do wonder how differently the whole thing works there.

Hunter> I think Craps could very well make it Macau soon. As I noted there are trained dealers (not to mention interested players) in the Philippines. I would assume that getting these dealers to work in Macau would be pretty easy and inexpensive.

However, there would need to be a lot of local education on the game to make it popular (a problem Vegas has currently). Ironically on a different leg of this same trip I was in a casino in Manila trying to explain he basics of craps in my limited Korean to a Korean fellow. I could tell he was interested, but his friend was pulling him away, sigh.

Finally thought on this, I doubt craps will ever die. They said that about poker when I was playing it in the mid and late 90's. Craps will get a resurgence. Classics never die.

December 7, 2006 8:11 PM Posted by Callum. W

I might also add that Sic Bo is quite popular in casinos here in Australia.

December 8, 2006 7:10 AM Posted by Chris B

The secretary for transport and public works in Macau has just been arrested for alleged graft. This is not surprising (I've heard rumours that some of the new money the government is finding in its hands is slipping through the cracks) but its a bit of a worry because the guy was in charge of some of the land disposals and large contract grants. I don't think this would really affect the likes of Wynn or LVS (because they are such high profile projects that all levels of government would be involved including the chief executive himself) but its certainly not a good development.

George, at the moment the Macau government does not allow foreigners to work as dealers, so those Filipino craps dealers won't be welcome until that rule changes.

Still figuring out the comp system myself - still in its infancy compared to LV though - particularly since the Macau market (up until the Sands' arrival) was primarily a high roller market (and I ain't no high roller!).

December 9, 2006 11:20 PM Posted by Bert

Well Wynn Macau Tryst is alive and kicking, and it is correct that it will have its official opening on December 15, 2006. Here is the article if you want to read it >>

And also foreign dealers are allowed in the casino's, Sands Macau employs them see >>

I also am intrigued about poker machines in Macau as Wynn Macau and all the other casinos and the Mocha Clubs are starting to install more poker machines see >>



December 11, 2006 5:42 AM Posted by detroit1051

Today's 12/11/06 Wall Street Journal has a cautionary story on Macau, "Casino Stocks Lifted by Macau Could See Winning Streak End." It suggests that after the huge gains this year, it may be time to take some money off the table because of too much expansion. Empty tables are beginning to appear even with increased visitation. An analyst is concerned about a battle for market share as more casinos open.
Much of the concern is directed at Melco which has the highest valuation.
Subscribers can read the article at:

December 11, 2006 9:10 PM Posted by Chris B

Not sure that the authors spent any time in Macau in coming up with this article. Just one example - they say that Galaxy has opened 4 casino resorts in the last year, which is just plain wrong (they have opened just 1, though they have established 2 "city clubs" in low-grade hotels operated by others which offer about as much competition to the likes of Wynn and LVS as the wonderfully awful Greek Mythology Casino).

That said, the LVS and Wynn stock prices have certainly gone a long way north this year - though for LVS I can understand the rise a bit more because they have the real estate side of their business model as well (and with property prices in Macau / China going in a distinctly positive direction, they should do very well from apartment / villa sales).

December 12, 2006 7:45 AM Posted by detroit1051

Family feud between the Ho's:
Winnie Ho Tries To Buy Out Stanley

December 12, 2006 8:51 AM Posted by Chris B

Yeah that dispute has been ongoing for a long while now - regularly front page news in the Macau papers.

Anyway, what are you doing reading the Sydney Morning Herald detroit?

December 14, 2006 9:35 PM Posted by chris

In the Wynn Macau casino now (its early afternoon). Plenty of empty seats at the HK$100 minimum bet baccarat tables, but very few at the HK$200 and 500 minimum tables and the $1000 and $3000 minimum. tables about half full. Watching a group of guys on a horrible losing streak each blowing MHK$5000 a hand.Plenty of action at the fish prawn crab tables and all sorts of excited yelling coming from the high stakes area as well.

December 15, 2006 4:36 AM Posted by detroit1051

Chris B, I check the Macau Daily Blog every few days for news. I learned about it from you or someone else here. I see another small casino, Babylon, is opening New Year's.
Macau Daily Blog

December 15, 2006 8:59 AM Posted by Chris B

Yeah that's the one at the end of fisherman's wharf - it was supposed to be open long ago. It won't have much of an impact methinks because firstly its at the end of fisherman's wharf which is not the most convenient location to get to (the Sands is far more convenient for all the foot traffic from the ferry terminal) and secondly because fisherman's wharf itself has been a bit of a white elephant with visitor numbers falling well short of what they had been estimating. I don't mind having a drink at Al's Diner from time to time (one of the restaurants there) but frankly there's not an awful lot to do at fisherman's wharf. Everyone seems more interested in heading to the Sands just across the road (where, incidentally, the hotel tower seems to be shooting up quite rapidly). Grand Lisboa (or at least the casino portion) looks like it isn't far off opening either, though the hotel tower needs another 9-12 months. The external cladding is going up on MGM. No sign of the second Wynn hotel tower yet.

December 18, 2006 9:03 AM Posted by detroit1051

Tryst at Wynn Macau is now open. It sounds like a huge success based on Norm's column in the Review Journal:

December 18, 2006 3:51 PM Posted by Chris B

Detroit I'm still a bit confused - I was in Tryst in Macau back in September and again in October, so why are they claiming it only just opened, unless of course they shut it for remodelling and the newly opened Tryst is a new version? Or in true Macau style maybe they are claiming that the September opening was just a "soft opening".

December 18, 2006 11:40 PM Posted by Bert

Chris B, you are right Tryst has been open all along! It was not just 100% completed, so they had the official opening party December 15.

Some opening party pictures.

Also I hear strong rumors that the Grand Lisboa will soft open on December 23, same time as the Babylon!

Will post it on my Macau Daily Blog once confirmed!

December 19, 2006 5:11 AM Posted by detroit1051

Chris B, the new edition of the online gossip publication, "Eye on Vegas" writes about Tryst's official opening although it's been open for some time:
Eye on Vegas

December 19, 2006 6:57 AM Posted by Chris B

Thanks for that Detroit. Its actually been open since Wynn Macau's opening night in September, but the few times I've been there they weren't using the outdoor poolside area. Its going to be very interesting to see Q4 numbers for Wynn Macau - I'm sure Steve has been holding back on announcing any Cotai plans just so that he has some price-positive news up his sleeve to balance any less-than-inspiring numbers that Wynn Macau may put out. Its fair to say that apart from the opening night I've never seen it bursting at the seams the way the Sands tends to be. Not that its empty or anything - the tables have certainly been busier than those at Wynn Las Vegas (the couple of times I was there last year) - just not as teeming as the Sands. As for Starworld, they seem to always have some kind of giveaway gimmick going on (like a lucky draw that people can enter even if they aren't gambling) to draw in the mainlanders - they certainly don't seem to be filling their casino with high-rollers that's for sure.

The Melco PBL IPO will no doubt bring a fair bit of attention to the impending opening of Crown Macau, which is really starting to take shape now. I'll take my camera along with me when I'm there next week and try and get a few decent shots.

December 19, 2006 8:43 AM Posted by detroit1051

Wynn issued a press release on Tryst:

December 19, 2006 4:34 PM Posted by Chris B

There's an article in today's Macao Daily about the MGM / Pansy Ho JV's plans to build a casino resort in Cotai. It quotes Pansy as saying that they are currently looking into it but can't announce anything concrete yet because they haven't yet acquired land and the eventual size / plans of the new venue would depend very much on the size of the plot of land they get.

December 19, 2006 6:05 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

Chris B, I'm telling you with an absolute certainty that, between both Adelson's long-term massive plans + the [multiple] future projects which will be generated through the MGM/Ho partnership in Macau, Wynn doesn't stand a chance in hell competing on an even keel with these guys in Cotai when he [Wynn] finally takes the plunge + decides to build there...

December 19, 2006 8:28 PM Posted by John

Mr. Stern, MGM/Ho doesn't even have land on Cotai yet. Wynn himself has secured 54 acres with the intent of developing two hotels of his own. He has already taken the "plunge", I don't know what you're raning about.

December 19, 2006 11:54 PM Posted by Chris B

I'm not going to take sides with Wynn or MGM on Cotai (I don't really care - I'd love both to be there). Touching on John's point though - land will become an issue as it is frankly quite limited in Macau. Almost all of what is known as the Cotai strip has been divided up and allocated already, so I don't know quite where MGM would build something even if it wanted to get into Cotai. The Macau government has consistently said that Coloane is off limits for new developments, so the only places I can think of are the go-karting track or some of the land near the Macau dome; either way they wouldn't be large plots and would be down the south end of the strip.

December 20, 2006 10:22 AM Posted by Leonard Stern

In what appears to be yet another brilliant long-term business maneuver for future investment potential in China by MGM is their recent announcement to develop several large scale 'non-gaming' hospitality properties in major Chinese cities, i.e. Beijing + Shanghai as a joint venture partner. This will firmly establish their [MGM's] brand identity as a high profile, recognizable player in Macau + boost their exposure in China significantly. I'm quite sure that there is a lot more potential to be garnered in the MGM/Ho marriage than outside sources are currently aware of or are privy to.

December 20, 2006 3:46 PM Posted by John

Yes, isn't it great that a very, very questionable partnership, in terms of legality can prosper between MGM and a woman with clear connections to her father's underground business "affairs". While I have always liked the plans for MGM Grand Macau, I'm still leary on that partnership.

December 20, 2006 4:52 PM Posted by mike_ch

Not much to be gained by running non-casinos on the mainland, really.

December 20, 2006 5:19 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

John, without compromising any of my sources, I can tell you with relative certainty that MGM has numerous, very "realistic" major future, large scale plans for Macau, beyond what ANY of you guys here can even imagine or otherwise have knowledge of. Personally, I will neither confirm nor deny what their [MGM's] future plans might encompass, however, I can assure you that MGM, with the support of their selected strategic partner(s) will easily eclipse Wynn in very short order, even when taking into consideration the 54 acre parcel WYNN has previously attained in Cotai that everybody is already aware of. (Let's not even try to bring Adelson into the meld/fold at this juncture, whereas he has already accomplished the impossible by creating himself (LVS) as having the undisputed monopoly for the future development of the Cotai Strip). Now John, how can you even question the "legal" implications which you refer to in connection with the MGM/Pansy Ho alliance [MGM/Macau] when that deal was already unanimously approved by the local government of Macau (think MGM Macau!). You obviously have no idea what are you talking about, they [MGM/Ho] are 'currently' constructing what will represent the most architecturally significant property in Macau until Cotai is eventually developed. Your assertion regarding the "legality" between MGM + Ho is totally unfounded as represented by the obvious, that being a $1B hotel/casino property upon completion. A "questionable" relationship, dude, what the hell are you smoking? I unconditionally expect you to challenge virtually everything that I offer here, however your latest comment is just plain ridiculous. WTF are you thinking?

December 20, 2006 5:57 PM Posted by Chris B

I hadn't seen that press release - thanks for pointing that out Leonard. Its a very odd partner to be teaming up with. The Diaoyutai guest house is the place where politicans and diplomats go when they meet in Beijing - as far as I was aware it was a government held communist party guest house. I didn't think the mainland government was keen on encouraging its officials to go gambling. Why not partner with the best known luxury hotel chain (Jin Jiang) instead?

December 20, 2006 6:48 PM Posted by George

If I can pop back into the mix here, a few thoughts.

One thing I wonder about is how much the Singapore situation is effecting Macau. Both in terms of resources and in sources. To that latter part I wonder how many rumors about both places tend to get crossed up in each other. I mention this since MGM has a good deal invested into the Singapore development as I recall.

On the later part of that, all the money in the world cannot replace good people. There are only so many planners and consultants on construction and operation to go around. Even if MGM/Wynn/LVS could get the cash to build on every bit of land in Vegas/Macau/Singapore/AC... there is no guarantee they could get decent support and operations staff to make them facilities up to par of their normal operations. Accordingly I wonder if a good part of this is only FUD to get another player to waste resources in an area. Again, just a thought (excuse me, I studied, perhaps too much, game theory in college).

As far as "legality" goes, its China for god sakes, or really I should pile on and say ITS FREAKING ASIA! A bit of cash here, a bottle of Chivas there, a Gucci wallet for a mistress, and a night at a Karaoke room with female "attendants" is part of doing business for massive projects. I am sure something shady is going on top level or low level that would make a US exec's stomach churn. And as far as China specifically, who knows what is actually "legal"? The rule of law can be bent into a pretzel there. Now I do not mean to specifically impugn the MGM/Ho relationship mentioned, but come on lets be adults and realize the specifics on the ground.

Final thought, Lenny you really need to get out more if think a casino will ever be the "most architecturally significant" building in Macau.

December 20, 2006 7:01 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

mike_ch: I suggest that you, at least make a reasonble attempt to, further your knowledge base/research of the potential dynamic that currently is evolving by means of assimilation + the introduction of Western gaming principles for the first time in the newly found booming market economy in China, even when combined with the government constrained Western capitalist poliicies, which are rapidly being ignored and now are becoming a gowing integral part of (mainland) future Chinese culture since that country now represents the largest global economy on the planet. The expanding middle class within the Chinese population will certainly prove to be the major contributing factor, long-term, resulting in the ultimate success of Macau as a gaming resort destination. Based on your misconstrued comment, in contrast, you appear to attempt to draw a comparision to the majority of gamblers who [currently] frequent only the 'high end' Las Vegas Strip properties and similarly, presumably will also become the majority of profitable patrons in Macau, whereby MGM's commitment in non-gaming enterprises would serve no substantive purpose. MGM's brand name recognition throughout mainland China, particularly when directed towards the middle class of means who live in major cities like Beijing + Shanghai, will ultimatley prove to be worth its weight in gold!

December 20, 2006 7:16 PM Posted by Pikes

"what the hell are you smoking?"

"WTF are you thinking?"

Here we go again!

December 20, 2006 7:21 PM Posted by Hunter

No, we're not going to go there again.

I love the fact that you guys don't agree on certain topics because it makes for interesting conversation but let's keep it professional and courteous please.

The colorful remarks aren't needed to make anyone's point.

The conversation will be actively moderated if the mud starts to fly...

Let's just not go there - this is an interesting conversation!

December 20, 2006 7:37 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

Chris B, you are clearly very well informed + accurate on everything that you have contributed here relating to Macau's development from a personal, "man in the street" perspective. However, I am willing to take a limited calculated risk in order to reveal a truthful, albeit 'censored' response to the degree that I am comfortable with, which I am positive YOU will understand completely. Despite the reported family "infighting" within the Ho dynasty over [Stanley's] previous monopoly of, not just his gaming enterprises, but essentially the majority of Macau's infrastructure for close to four decades, I personally cannot either confirm nor deny that this whole fiasco is nothing but a carefully planned ruse! The Ho family collectively will continue to exert [their] control over Macau for decades to come, and I am sure that you know exactly where I am going with this...MGM's choice in partnering with Stanley's daughter will ultimately pay off in spades at the end of the day.

December 20, 2006 7:39 PM Posted by Bert

Just to put some facts straight, Pansey Ho is managing STDM which owns 80% of SJM's casino's.

Nothing would stop her in the future to revamp some of SJM's casino's with the MGM brand. Dr Stanley Ho is not getting any younger! If that happens, and it could, MGM would give Venetian and Wynn a run for their money!

One thing is for sure, good location land is getting very scarce, don't forget the Casino's also will also need properties to house all their imported senior staff and workers. A 100, 000 of them alone for the Cotai Strip!

December 20, 2006 7:44 PM Posted by Bert

Oh Forgot >>> Tryst Party Pics > Please log on to (username: Wynn, password: Wynn)

December 20, 2006 8:11 PM Posted by John

Then why did the NGC and the NJGC have certain issues regarding at least the rumors that triads were involved in Stanley Ho's business dealings, considering that 50% of MGM Grand Paradise is Pansy Ho, who is the heir apparent to Ho's business empire, I could see some definite "issues" regarding this alliance. Also, it might be of note that the NGC almost pushed for Ho to apply for a Nevada Gaming License, which was avoided by MGM on the grounds that Ms. Ho isn't operating a casino in Nevada, but none the less....

December 20, 2006 8:20 PM Posted by Chris B

Nobody in HK or Macau (or south China) doubts for a second that its not coincidence that of the three gambling concessions and three sub-concessions, one has ended up with SJM, one with Pansy and one with Lawrence. They are very much looking to shore up the Ho family future in Macau and what better way to do it than with MGM and the Packer family. And their local connections give them a massive head start in terms of sourcing land for projects (Cotai perhaps the exception given its strategic nature and the fact that any Cotai land grant will be an extremely high profile government decision).

As for MGM / Diaoyutai - there could be some other benefits to MGM, other than just increasing brand recognition. Maybe they are making a long-term bet that the mainland will eventually allow casinos, so by the time that decision is made they are well established and in the front-running to benefit. The mainland has been fiddling around with limited forms of gambling (lotteries, cell-phone based games and some horse racing) but it would still be a huge leap for them to allow casinos and I don't think it'll happen in the next decade.

December 22, 2006 9:14 AM Posted by detroit1051

The Wild, Wild East:
"Wynn Las Vegas on Thursday confirmed that Cy Waits, a managing partner in Steve Wynn's two Tryst nightclubs, was involved in a recent altercation at Tryst Macau, but dismissed as incredulous wild versions circulating that included arrests, jail and Chinese gangsters. No one was arrested, no one was put in jail, and no gangsters were involved, said a Wynn rep who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Waits is in good standing with Wynn and will be working at the Wynn Tryst this weekend. Tryst Macau opened last weekend."

Also, CIBC cut WYNN's rating to Sector Underperform this morning which has brought WYNN back under $90.

December 22, 2006 12:24 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

detroit: I told you guys this was coming. WYNN is currently already down more than 2% for the day and continues its recent slide trend. This is just the beginning, more and more analysts now expect a correction that would take WYNN shares well below 80 very soon, based on its recent run-up combined with the fact that it is so overvalued as reflected in WYNN's price earnings ratio.

December 27, 2006 6:55 PM Posted by detroit1051

Sunday's NY Times will have an article in the Travel Section on Macau. It won't let me link it until Saturday night, but here are two interesting excerpts:
On Wynn: "But the service, except in the well-staffed spa, leaves something to be desired. No army of liveried personnel descends to open taxi doors or to help guests with luggage, and check-in can be a chaotic affair. Quite a few of the young employees speak little or no English, with �sparkling water� and �open for lunch?� proving incomprehensible."
On Venetian: "Looming over them, out of all human proportion, will be the gargantuan hulk of the Venetian. It blots out the sky � just try to take a photograph! � with a menacing cement silhouette only faintly lit by fluorescent construction lights. As the darkness of evening descends, few sights come closer to the postapocalyptic nightmares of Orwell�s novels, Pink Floyd�s videos or Terry Gilliam�s films."

December 28, 2006 5:01 AM Posted by Chris B

I took some photos yesterday actually - the Venetian is truly imposing compared to Wynn, MGM, Starworld and either of the Lisboas. The only thing that comes close is Galaxy Cotai, the main tower of which has now probably reached the same height as the Venetian. The exterior of the Venetian hotel tower is now virtually done. If I get some time tomorrow I'll send a few pics to Hunter from my office (I'd have done so already if not for my wife giving birth earlier today). The casino area of the Grand Lisboa looks like it could open within a month or two - it sets a new standard in tackiness (its basically a multi-colored ball made up of little glass pieces of different colors) but I kinda like it - it would be a shame if Stanley moved away from tacky and started making boxes.

December 31, 2006 4:33 AM Posted by detroit1051

Chris B, best wishes to you and your wife on the arrival of your bundle of joy!

Here's the complete NY Times Travel article on Macau:
New York Times on Macau