SJM Holdings‘ planned expansion in Macau’s Cotai Strip will probably end up being bigger than anybody thought. Days after announcing that it was tacking on another HK$5 billion into its HK$20 billion budget for its first resort and casino in Cotai, Asia’s biggest casino operator followed that up by announcing another transaction, one that would eventually triple the size of its casino resort in the gambling strip.
The company is set to purchase a stake in a neighboring plot of land owned by the mother of SJM founder Stanley Ho’s youngest children. Company CEO Ambrose So didn’t give a specific price tag on the transaction but he did say that the purchase is expected to be signed, sealed, and delivered before the end of the year.
“By combining the two pieces of land, we’ll have a bigger site to develop a full-fledged resort,” So said in a recent interview in Macau. The expansion will “give us a leg up on competition with other casino operators.”
It’s a leg up that’s a long time coming for the biggest casino operator in the region. Of the six operators in Macau, SJM is the last one to join the Cotai party, despite operating 20 of the 35 casinos in Macau. Ho had a gambling monopoly in Macau for close to four decades before the government began issuing licenses to outside operators.
A lot of the foreign operators have already set up shop in Cotai, including Las Vegas Sands, which is in the process of building its fifth casino resort in Cotai. After initial reluctance to copy the glitzy Las Vegas-style atmosphere of the Cotai Strip, SJM Holdings’ finally warmed up to the idea and it’s joining the party with the intention of presenting an integrated resort and casino that will end up becoming bigger – and more expensive – than its initial plan.