$5B Grand Lisboa Palace Finished, But Macau Casino Resort Has No Opening Date

Posted on: October 7, 2020, 11:43h. 

Last updated on: October 7, 2020, 01:19h.

Grand Lisboa Palace has finished construction, but the $5 billion integrated resort still hasn’t welcomed its first guest. The Palace is SJM Holdings’ first investment on Macau’s Cotai Strip.

Macau Grand Lisboa Palace SJM Holdings
Grand Lisboa Palace, seen here, continues to sit vacant on the Cotai Strip in Macau. (Image: Macau News Agency)

SHM Holdings is far behind the gold rush of what’s become the Cotai Strip. Today, it’s where the wealthiest high rollers gamble and stay when visiting Macau, and SJM is seeking to recoup lost market share through its $5 billion IR investment. The gaming empire was founded by the late Stanley Ho.

SJM Holdings said the integrated resort casino would open by the end of 2020, according to security filings made in July with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. But this week, billionaire Angela Leong, Ho’s fourth wife, stated there’s no concrete opening date for Grand Lisboa Palace.

We’ll adapt to suit client needs, and we will see how Macau’s market conditions evolve,” Leong stated.

There is no online presence for Grand Lisboa Palace where future guests can book their stays. SJM Holdings operates gambling at 20 casinos in Macau. In addition to Grand Lisboa Palace, SJM owns three casino hotels — Grand Lisboa Hotel in downtown Macau, Jai Alai Hotel, and Sofitel Macau at Ponte 16.

Market Wars

Macau, the world’s richest casino market, has six licensed gaming operators. Ho’s SJM Holdings held a monopoly on Macau gambling for decades. But that changed after the enclave was returned to Chinese control in 1999.

Macau, a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic, welcomed in five commercial casino operators in 2001. Since then, SJM has seen its grip on the market decline.

SJM went from holding a 100 percent monopoly on Macau gambling at the turn of the century to just 14.9 percent in 2019. Las Vegas Sands led the way in developing the Cotai Strip on reclaimed land between Taipa and Colane islands. Cotai is packed with multibillion-dollar, five-star luxury casino resorts, including The Venetian, Wynn Palace, MGM Cotai, Galaxy Macau, and City of Dreams.

Gaming analysts believe Grand Lisboa Palace will help SJM regain market share.

“We expect that when Grand Lisboa Palace opens, coupled with a slow recovery in sector gaming revenues from the pandemic, the immediate impact will be [market] over-capacity, leading to market-share shifts among operators, with SJM being the primary beneficiary,” opined Singapore-based firm Smartkarma Innovations.

Grand Lisboa will cater to the VIP. Leong said the high roller “is an important component” for the company’s future. In 2019, SJM controlled a 19.5 percent market share on mass gambling, but just 12.2 percent on VIP business.

A Grand Palace

Grand Lisboa Palace is located south of Wynn Palace on the Strip’s eastern side. The Palace features a casino floor measuring nearly 300,000 square feet. The space will be occupied with 1,200 slot machines and some 700 table games.

The resort will offer 2,000 hotel rooms in three distinct towers — The Lisboa Palace Hotel, Palazzo Versace Macau, and Karl Lagerfeld Hotel.

SJM announced last month that the sprawling resort is eco-friendly, with each guestroom equipped with heat recovery ventilation systems, energy-efficient LED lights, temperature sensors, and “smart” curtains that close when the room is empty.