Macau gambling revenue slid 9.6 percent in May, according to data supplied by the southern Chinese territory’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau. The city’s nearly three dozen casinos collected 18.4 billion patacas ($2.3 billion) last month, some $240 million less than it did in May of 2015.
Macau gambling revenue was down in May for the 24th straight month, but companies that have invested in the region remain optimistic, as they look to diversify their businesses.
And that marked the 24th straight month of year-over-year declines in the once-flush Asian gambling conclave.
Even the most optimistic observer is struggling to find any positives out of the Macau’s gambling industry these days. The lone piece of slightly good news is that May generated about five percent more money than either March or April did.
But times are certainly dire, as Chinese President Xi Jinping continues his ‘crackdown on corruption,’ pushing high roller VIP players, who once arrived via organized junkets, to look for their nosebleed action elsewhere. Junket operators used to regularly cater to mainland China’s elite by bringing them to Macau and loaning them money to gamble, but Xi’s policies have largely made that impossible now.
The general consensus among analysts was that Macau gambling revenue would dip six to seven percent in May. But it even underperformed those poor expectations by nearly three percent. To understand just how detrimental the junket suppression has been, Macau casinos produced over $4 billion in May of 2013.
Focusing on Tourism
With Beijing showing no signs of loosening its stronghold on Macau VIP junket operators, the gaming region continues to look for ways to diversify its economy.
The Macau Government Tourism Office is currently updating its ‘Tourism Industry Development Plan,’ and asking for public comment now through July 22.
‘With continuous growth of visitors from different parts of the world, the tourism industry of Macau has lots of development potential,’ the Tourism Office states in its consultation paper. ‘The vision in the tourism area is to elevate the city to the next level as a world-known tourism destination with impressive products and rich leisure experiences.’
To accomplish such lofty goals, Macau says it must expand its region’s products to include more accommodation options, build cultural facilities, and attract leading retail and dining establishments. ‘Macau needs to offer a diversified and attractive tourism product mix and experience,’ the paper concludes, echoing what has, in fact, been a very successful venture in that very direction for Las Vegas over the past decade.
Sounds Like Sin City
As just one example of this, Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson is focusing more of his time on conventions and sports than gambling these days, as the billionaire is collaborating with Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis in trying to relocate the NFL franchise to Sin City.
Adelson also recently announced plans to build what he claims will be a first of its kind, 400,000-square-foot entertainment concert venue behind his Venetian and Palazzo resorts.
MGM recently finished the T-Mobile Arena, which seems to be doing gangbusters in its first few months of business booking A-list performers, and Steve Wynn wants to build an artificial 38-acre lake to house a water park equipped with water skiing, paddle boarding, parasailing, zip lining, and more.
Meanwhile, back in Macau, Adelson’s planned Parisian resort, scheduled to open in July on the Cotai Strip, will feature a half-scale Eiffel Tower replica, 250 boutique shops, a spa, and 56,000 square feet of conference space.
Wynn is also readying to open his second Macau destination. The Wynn Palace will feature an eight-acre ‘performance lake,’ gondolas, meeting space, spa, salon, and retail shopping.
Which, come to think of it, does sound an awful lot like Las Vegas East.
Michael Jackson’s Las Vegas ‘Thriller Villa’ Listed for Sale
‘Thriller Villa,’ a residence in Las Vegas once rented by Michael Jackson, is up for sale. (Image: sothebysrealty.com)
One of Michael Jackson’s final residences can be yours if your bank account is stocked with at least $10 million. Dubbed the ‘Thriller Villa,’ 2710 Palomino Lane, Las Vegas, Nevada, is being listed for $9.5 million.
Equipped with seven bedrooms, 10 baths, and 24,276 square feet of living space in the main mansion, the ‘Thriller Villa’ was where the King of Pop lived after moving from his Neverland Ranch in 2007.
Jackson didn’t actually own the property, but rented the 1.7-acre compound from 2007 until his unexpected death in 2009.
Among the villa’s amenities is a Medieval Chapel, guest house, multiple bars and dining areas, private art gallery, and secretive basement exit Jackson used to avoid peering paparazzi outside the home’s gates.
While the property has remained a private residence, it’s hosted several events since Jackson’s passing according to the current owner’s WordPress blog about his home. The owner managed the online site in an effort to discourage unwanted visitors from coming to the house.
Ready to make an offer? Sotheby’s International Realty, one of the world’s leading luxury real estate brands, is the listing agent for ‘Thriller Villa.’
Michael Jackson spent the vast chunk of his 50-year life living at the famed Neverland Ranch in Los Olivos, California. From 1988 until 2005, Jackson dumped millions of dollars into creating a whimsical playground on what’s estimated to be about 3,000 acres large.
As extraordinarily talented as Jackson was when it came to music, he was exceptionally inept in managing his personal fortune.
The 13-time Grammy winner fell on tough times in the early 2000s. Not only was he engaged in a second child sexual abuse case, but he was also running low on cash.
He eventually decided to move from Neverland to Las Vegas and afterwards opted to pursue a comeback.
Jackson was readying to embark on a concert tour when he died in Los Angeles on June 25, 2009. His preparations for the tour were documented in a documentary released the following October titled ‘This Is It.’
Wealthy and MJ Superfan
When listing an estate for nearly $10 million, the possible clientele that can afford such extravagances is understandably much smaller than that of your typical middle-class home.
And for ‘Thriller Villa,’ the potential pool of buyers is even more reduced. That’s because the home’s current owner has since incorporated elements of Jackson into the property, meaning if you have the financial capability of shelling out $10 million for a home, you’ll also likely have to be a staunch Jackson fan.
According to Realtor.com’s Judy Dutton, various ornate furniture pieces reportedly preferred by Jackson have been incorporated into the décor. The owner has also included a replica of the ‘Boy on the Moon’ image, something that Jackson had plastered throughout Neverland.
The owner is certainly hoping to capitalize off the unique property through its former unique tenant. Sotheby’s no doubt paid a pretty penny to produce a video touring the grounds featuring Michael’s music and likeness displayed prominently.
Biggest Nevada Political Donors for Casino Industry Include Adelson, Fertitta Brothers
The top Nevada political donors of the 2015/16 financial year are drawn largely from the casino industry, but also include a cosmetics executive, an auto dealer, and even a poker player, according to a list published by the Las Vegas Review-Journal this week.
Brothers Lorenzo, left, and Frank Fertitta, right, with UFC president Dana White. (Image: Jamie McCarthy/WireImage)
Perhaps surprising some, the biggest donor of the year so far was not Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson, as you might expect, but the CEO and chairman of RagingWire Data Centers, George C. Macricostas.
Macricostas donated $2.12 million in total, with $1.6 million of that going to a super PAC that backed the presidential candidacy of Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky). Ah, well easy come, easy go.
Senator Paul didn’t get a dime from Adelson, incidentally, and the good senator’s opposition to federal restrictions on online gambling might have something to do with that. But they don’t call Adelson a ‘Republican mega donor’ for nothing. Instead, the LVS chairman has focused his attentions, all $915,500 of them, on a variety of Republican causes, such as funding the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
If reports last week that Adelson is to spend upwards of $100 million creating a pro-Trump super PAC are true, then his stock on this particular list is about to rise.
Former casino mogul Donald Trump, of course, is the GOP presidential nominee in all but official convention status as of now, and Adelson has said that he’s backing him for that very reason.
Meanwhile, some other famously Republican casino owners, the Fertitta brothers of Station Casinos, gave $500,000 to the Senate Leadership Fund, an organization devoted to preserving the GOP majority in the Senate.
New Jersey Connection
Next up, a company called Winecup-Gamble Inc., donated $1 million to America Leads, a PAC that backed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s presidential bid.
Winecup Gamble is a ranch owned by Paul Fireman, a former CEO of Reebok, who’s since turned venture capitalist. Fireman wants to build a $4.6 billion casino resort in Jersey City and Governor Chris Christie has thrown his abundant weight behind a referendum to expand casino gaming into North Jersey.
That’s how it works in politics: money talks and politicians walk, or should we say jump, on cue.
When you’re a poker player who appears on a list of notable ‘donators,’ it’s usually not a good thing. Unless you’re Cary Katz, of course. Katz is a mainstay on the high roller tournament circuit, and he’s also the guy who famously ran his pocket aces into Connor Drinian’s pocket aces at the 2014 Big One for One https://myfreepokies.com/miss-kitty/ Drop, and winded up making a flush.
Katz made his money when he founded a student loan company, the Summerlin-based College Loan Corp., in 1999, of which he is chairman. He is a serial donor to various Republican causes and over the years, has pledged $483,073 to a variety of these.
Notably, Steve Wynn is the only wealthy Nevadan on the list to adopt an entirely bipartisan approach. He has supported both Republican and Democrat presidential candidates, including Christie, Cruz, and Clinton. That’s what’s called ‘hedging your bets,’ and Wynn hasn’t landed at the top of the industry food chain by not knowing how to gamble.
Monte Carlo Renovation Planned by MGM Resorts International, Atlantic City’s Showboat to Reopen as Non-Casino Hotel
MGM Resorts says it will spend $450 million to update the Monte Carlo and ready the 20-year-old property for its inclusion into The Park, a new area with New York-New York designed to attract younger visitors. (Image: hotel-in-vegas.net)
The Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas will soon undergo a $450 million renovation that will ‘touch every element of the property’ to update the two-decades-old venue in hopes of attracting a younger, more affluent demographic.
In a partnership with New York-based hotelier Sydell Group, MGM says the project will transform the Monte Carlo into two distinct hotels, Park MGM, and The NoMad Las Vegas. Park MGM will consist of 2,700 rooms while the NoMad will come with 292 guestrooms and draw upon Sydell’s flagship NoMad in New York City.
The facelift will be the third at the Monte Carlo since it opened in 1996. A 2008 fire on the top six floors of the building caused $100 million in damage.
‘Coupling MGM’s rich legacy of hospitality and entertainment with Sydell Group’s expertise in creating hotels that cultivate a strong sense of place will result in a destination that both celebrates the history of Las Vegas and ushers in a new era,’ MGM President Bill Hornbuckle said.
MGM hopes to have the renovations completed by the end of 2018.