[HONG KONG] Casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group plans to more than double its investment to HK$100 billion (S$17.30 billion) in its Macau integrated resort as part of a goal to reduce its focus on gambling.
Chairman Lui Che Woo said on Friday the company will invest at least HK$55 billion in the third and fourth phases of its Galaxy Macau integrated resort to bring in more entertainment and cultural offerings. Lui did not specify by when the investment will be made.
The move comes as China is pushing for the southern territory to diversify its economy into areas such as culture, sports and retail. "The current message from the central government and the Macau government (for the industry) is to develop other business alongside gaming. We have the largest land bank and it's to our advantage," company vice chairman Francis Lui told reporters.
Galaxy, owned by Hong Kong construction tycoon Lui, has the largest plot of land on the main Cotai strip in Macau. Even after phase two opens in May this year, it will still have half of the land area to build on.
Macau, a special administrative region like Hong Kong, is the only place in China where casino gambling is legal. It has had rapid growth in previous years, making it the world's largest gaming destination.
But gambling revenue in Macau fell last year for the first time since casinos were liberalised in 2001 as a Beijing campaign against conspicuous spending by public officials led to a decline in wealthy players. "We're going through a consolidation but we're quite confident that we can emerge as a much stronger market in general... and a much stronger company that actually strengthens the market by offering more non-gaming amenities," said company president Michael Mecca.