The 13 Macau has finally received a license to operate as a hotel. The long-delayed project being built south of the Cotai Strip was issued its permit from the Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) this week after a subsequent inspection found it ready to welcome guests.

The 13 Macau hotel casino Cotai

More than five years after it was conceptualized, The 13 in Macau is finally nearing an opening. (Image: Hsin Yieh Architects)

The $1.6 billion resort missed yet another self-proclaimed opening last month after the MGTO said further inspections were required. In a statement to GGRAsia, the MGTO explained that the agency “has issued licenses to The 13 Hotel, as well as the establishments located inside the hotel.”

In recent securities filings with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, The 13 says it will open for business on August 31.

According to The 13 website, the property will feature 200 all-villa rooms, five restaurants and bars, and spa. Guests will be transported around town in one of 30 Rolls-Royce Phantoms, which were purchased at a cost of more than $20 million, the automobile company’s largest single order in its history.

The 13 Story

Envisioned by flamboyant Hong Kong businessman Stephen Hung in 2013 at the height of Macau’s gaming industry, The 13 was to be an ultra-extravagant five-star property catering to the enclave’s most elite visitors.

As investors were buying in on the opportunity to invest in Macau’s newest casino resort, China began cracking down on VIP junket groups that transport mainland high rollers to the enclave. People’s Republic President Xi Jinping’s directive took gross gambling revenue in the region from $45 billion in 2013, to under $28 billion three years later.

Casinos began switching their focus away from the high roller to the mass market. But Hung pressed on with The 13, sparing no expense and buying the Rolls’ in 2016 despite grave concerns regarding Macau’s future.

Shareholders fled in Hung’s The 13 Holdings Ltd, which has since been renamed South Shore Holdings, and the stock became nearly worthless. Hung resigned from the company earlier this year.

Remaining investors finally saw some sort of gain on Friday following the hotel licensing news. The stock traded up 7.14 percent to 0.75 HKD, or roughly US 10 cents.

Success Odds Long

The 13 is 1.25 miles south of The Parisian, which is the southernmost end of the Cotai Strip where the multibillion-dollar integrated resorts have become the high rollers paradise.

Bloomberg analyst Margaret Huang stated in 2017 that without a casino, The 13 will struggle to attract the type of clientele the property was built to entice.

“If the property operates as a standalone hotel, it may be difficult to justify room rates to match its high-end focus,” she opined. “Without a casino, it would be nearly impossible to have gamblers book rooms separately with them.”

VIP gamblers are often afforded numerous comps, and that’s especially true in Macau where the megaresorts are clamoring for the reduced market. With expected high room rates and only fine dining restaurants, and The 13 might also struggle to attract the general mass public.