Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Ho gambles Melco’s fate in Japan at Russian venture’s expense

Casino – CalvinAyre.com
Ho gambles Melco’s fate in Japan at Russian venture’s expense

Chinese casino mogul Lawrence Ho has ditched the cold (not to mention expensive) Primorye region to gamble the fate of Melco Resorts & Entertainment in the land of the rising sun.

Nikkei Asian Review reported that Ho has given up his control of the Hong Kong-listed Summit Ascent Holdings Ltd., the company that runs Tigre de Cristal casino resort in Russia’s Far East, to boost Melco’s chances to acquire a casino license in Japan.Ho gambles Melco’s fate in Japan at Russian venture's expense

Ho admitted that the allure of Japan’s casino market potential was a major factor that made him decide to divest all his 391 million shares in Summit Ascent in 2017. Ho’s shares at the end of 2016, which represent 27.06 percent in direct holdings at the time, now has a price tag of HKD363.6 million (US$46.32 million).

“Rarely do you find a first-world country like Japan with the infrastructure, tech and people already in place, yet the potential still so big,” the Melco boss said, according to the news outlet.

Media reports earlier speculated that Ho’s departure from Russia was due to the plans by local officials to hike the gaming taxes. Ho, however, revealed that their decision was tied to international politics.

Ho explained that Japan and Russia are embroiled in a territorial dispute, and, during that time, Russia had been sanctioned by the international community for its annexation of Crimea. The Melco boss said they didn’t want to ruin the chances of Melco to get a casino license just because of its investments in Russia.

“I did not want to do anything that would jeopardize how Japanese regulators see my other activities,” Ho said. “Given that my main focus is Japan…I said let’s quickly clean that up.”

If Melco is granted a Japanese casino license, Ho said the company will shell out $10 billion for the construction of an integrated resort in a major city.

On Tuesday, the lower parliamentary chamber started its discussions on the draft Integrated Resorts Implementation Bill (IR Bill). With the legislative sessions nearing its end, the lawmakers are already discussing the possibility of extending the sessions to ensure that the bill will sail through both chambers of the parliament.

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