Lawrence Ho Gets Shared Big-Time, as Banner Year Leads to Big Bonus for Melco Resorts CEO

Posted on: April 7, 2018, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: April 7, 2018, 09:14h.

Hong Kong mega-mogul Lawrence Ho has been showered with $5.1 million in shares after playing a key role in securing record profits in 2017. Ho consistently ranks in the Forbes Top 50 Richest list, which is saying something among Asia’s uber-billionaires.

Melco Resorts Gives CEO $5 million bonus.
Lawrence Ho led Melco Resorts and Entertainment to record profits in 2017, leading to a nice end-of-year performance bonus for the billionaire. (Image: The Japan Times)

Casino developer and operator Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd. awarded Ho the reserve shares in order to recognize his “contribution to the success and development of the Melco Resorts group and to incentivize and motivate him to continue to strive for the future development of the Melco Resorts group and its business.”

While millions might be a generous bonus, it’s but a drop in the bucket compared to how much Ho — son of billionaire gaming mogul Stanley Ho — has made the company in recent years with some savvy business decisions.

Peaking Profits

2017 was a huge year for Melco Resorts and Entertainment, which owns and operates three resort casinos in Macau.

The company reported an 88 percent increase in fourth-quarter profits over the previous year. Over the full year, net revenues climbed to $5.3 billion from $4.5 billion in 2016. In that same time period, Ho helped double net income for Melco from $175.9 million in 2016 to $347 million last year.

The gaming operator also owns City of Dreams casino in Manila, Philippines and is developing a new resort in Cypress, Greece. While the latter won’t be open until 2021, Melco has been granted a license to operate a temporary venue until the new project goes up.

Melco made other maneuvers in 2017, too, selling off interest in a lottery technology company, while increasing an investment in Entertainment Gaming Asia, a company that provides gaming machines to land-based Philippine casinos.

It all added up to historic profits in 2017, but Ho, at just 42 years old, isn’t done making moves. He has his eye on an even bigger prize in 2018.

Next Big Thing

Despite the steady growth into other international markets, there’s one destination that Ho covets more than any other: Japan. The Land of the Rising Sun has mesmerized casino operators for years, but until recently, the idea was a non-starter. That could all be changing, as lawmakers are in the process of fast tracking legislation that would allow land-based casinos to open there by 2025.

Ho has been very open in his desire to secure a gaming license in Japan. Speculation from industry experts is that the government will grant two licences, one in Osaka and another in Yokohama, and Ho is willing to go to great lengths to land one of them.

He’s promising to pack up Melco’s headquarters in Macau and move the head office to Japan if awarded a casino license there. Ho clearly sees massive potential in the market, according to Games Magazine.

“Aside from Macau, Japan should be the best market, especially due to its population size. The fact that Chinese tourists love going there and that Japan is a special country, [add to its attractiveness],” said Ho.

If the Japanese gaming bill passes this year, Ho expects the bidding process to start within the next two years.