Stanley Ho Son Arnaldo Revives Macau Cotai Strip Resort Project

Posted on: October 19, 2018, 11:30h. 

Last updated on: October 19, 2018, 10:23h.

Stanley Ho’s son Arnaldo Ho is reinitiating plans to build an HDK $5 billion ($638 million) integrated resort on the Macau Cotai Strip after local authorities moved in to seize the land where it is to be built.

Stanley Ho Macau casino resort
Arnaldo Ho, son of Macau billionaire Stanley Ho, says he will build a resort with elements that honor his father. (Image: Lisboeta Macau)

Originally envisioned as a nongaming integrated resort with a theme park known as “Hello Kitty,” Ho now says it will be up to the government whether the project will feature a casino floor.

Lisboeta Macau, as the development is known, is adjacent to where Stanley Ho’s SJM Holdings is building its $4.6 billion integrated resort Grand Lisboa Palace. Lisboeta Macau will be a four-star hotel resort featuring various leisure activities and shopping.

“At this moment, this project does not contain any gaming elements. We are not a casino operator and now this project is meant as a hotel complex site, and we are a hotel operator,” Arnaldo Ho told reporters this week.

To house a casino, Macau resorts need to partner with one of the enclave’s six licensed gaming operators. Along with his father’s SJM Holdings, the concession holders are Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts, Galaxy Entertainment, and Melco Resorts.

Ode to Dad

The elder Ho, 96 years old, announced his formal retirement earlier this year, though he largely stepped aside from his duties many years ago.

Stanley had the luxury of holding a gaming monopoly on Macau for decades. Dubbed Macau’s founding father, Ho had the exclusive gaming privileges in the Chinese enclave for some 40 years. It ended when Macau was handed back from Portugal to China in 1999.

The People’s Republic liberalized gaming in 2002, and the first competing commercial casinos emerged in 2006 with the opening of Sands Macau and Wynn Macau.

Arnaldo Ho says his resort will pay homage to his father. He revealed that Lisboeta Macau will feature a replica of a former floating casino that was known as Macau Palace.

“When I look at my father’s developments in the 60s of Macau, I feel that those are not very recognized and as his son, I should inherit those elements and introduce them.”

Arnaldo’s mother Angela announced the “Hello Kitty” resort project in 2010, but the land has largely sat vacant since. Local authorities moved to reclaim the coveted Cotai Strip property under a 2013 law that deters developers from hoarding acreage for future profit. Ho stepped in and says the development is back on, and Lisboeta Macau will open in 2020.

Macau Future

Macau has been undergoing a rebirth in recent years after China President Xi Jinping included VIP junket groups in his anti-corruption campaign. As a result, gross gambling revenue (GGR) fell from $45 billion in 2013 to $27.9 billion three years later.

Casino operators that invested tens of billions of dollars in their integrated casino resorts switched their focus away from the high roller to more of the mass market. The decision has seemingly worked, as GGR is on pace to win nearly $34 billion in 2018.