Macau Business Daily
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Former Las Vegas Sands Corp president Bill Weidner has been chosen to operate a new US$3.5 billion (28 billion patacas) gaming resort in The Bahamas.
Baha Mar is being majority-funded by the Export-Import Bank of China – a state-owned Chinese institution – and is due to open in December 2014. Another equity partner, with US$1 billion, is Sarkis Izmirlian, chief executive of Baha Mar Ltd.
The resort will be managed by Mr Weidner’s Global Gaming Asset Management LLC, which has an equity stake in the US$1.2 billion Solaire Resort & Casino in the Philippines, and is pursuing a gaming resort licence in Matsu in Taiwan.
Mr Weidner, who helped develop The Venetian Macao while at LVS, told Business Daily that an equity stake in Baha Mar wasn’t an option as the project was already advanced when GGAM was asked to get involved.
“It was too far down the pipe [for that],” he stated. “It’s tough to see how you would carve out something like that.”
The project has been in preparation for ten years, but an original proposed equity partner – Harrah’s, now Caesars Entertainment – was unable to go forward with the scheme, sources familiar with the situation told Business Daily.
Asked if there would be a supply of Chinese VIP gamblers to the resort, Mr Weidner told us: “It’s a year and a half away and you never know. Look what’s happening outside of Macau now. You have Singapore; you have lots of other places”
He added: “This place [Macau] is the hub, this will always be the king. There’s plenty more to fuel this. But I think you’ll see more and more Chinese travelling to exotic places. It’s part of the evolution of a growing China.”
Pete Wu, a former Macau gaming executive who is now senior vice president, international marketing and alliances for Baha Mar Ltd, told Business Daily: “There is a pipeline for Asian players out to that region. Also the resort is being built by China State Construction, and financed by the Export-Import Bank of China. They have ‘skin in the game’ so they have a vested interest in helping us be successful. They’re state-owned enterprises, so any additional conversations regarding airlift or airlines, visas, etc., they can offer some assistance.”
The beach-front project will have a 100,000-square-foot casino with 150 gaming tables and 1,500 slot machines as well as luxury hotels, dining and shopping, a golf course and a convention centre.
Mr Wu stated: “We can even offer in-room gaming. If you want it in your suite, we can put it in there. We can do that in the form of tables or slots.”
The executive added the resort also has permission to offer ‘in play’ betting on live sport, and also proxy telephone betting and online betting.
It will be the second gaming resort in the Bahamas. The first, called Atlantis, was developed by South African gaming entrepreneur Sol Kerzner from 1994 onwards, from an earlier investor’s project.
Source: Macau Business Daily.