The soon-to-open Studio City in Macau has finally received its gaming table allocation from the Macau government, only the number is less than what Melco Crown Entertainment is hoping for.
Studio City International Holdings Ltd. announced on Tuesday that the Cotai casino will operate 250 new-to-market gaming tables, about 200 of which can be operated during the casino’s launch on Oct. 27.
“The Macau government has authorized Studio City’s gaming operator… to operate 250 new gaming tables and 1,233 new gaming machines at the Studio City gaming areas, of which 200 gaming tables and 1,233 gaming machines may be in operation upon the opening of Studio City with the remaining 50 tables authorized to be in operation beginning in January 2016,” Studio City International Holdings said in a statement.
The gaming operator is a member of Melco Crown Entertainment, which, in turn, is partly owned by James Packer’s Crown Resorts.
Back in August, Melco Crown CEO Lawrence Ho said he hoped the $3.2-billion Studio City could open with 400 tables. Still, Melco’s table allotment is superior to the 150 tables rival Galaxy Entertainment Group was originally allocated for the Galaxy Macau and Broadway Macau casinos, which opened early this year. However, Galaxy has now been given 100 additional tables, half of which can launch immediately, with the other half as of Jan. 1, 2016.
“Following the table allocation confirmation, Studio City intends to proactively engage the lenders under its senior credit facilities to discuss proposed amendments to the terms of its loan documentation to reflect the number of tables allocated,” the company said.
Melco’s table allocation didn’t meet an important requirement of the $1.4 billion debt deal it had with hedge funds, which included a covenant that the new Macau casino would feature at least 400 tables, according to the Australian Financial Review.
Last week, an irate Steve Wynn lambasted the Macau government and called the city state’s table cap as the “single most counterintuitive and irrational decision ever made,” which he said will only “undermine and scuttle” the gambling industry.
Macau officials, however, refused to be swayed on their table cap stance, which limits the total number of tables to a 3 percent compound annual expansion until 2022. The government said it has several factors to take into consideration before deciding on the table allocation, such as the non-gaming components of the new projects in Cotai as well as the partnerships between the casino operators and the local small- and medium-sized businesses.
Despite missing its table target, Melco thanked Macau authorities for recognizing the efforts and investments it made into the entertainment offerings at the casino complex.
“We thank the Macau government for its consideration of our application and approval of gaming tables and machines for Studio City. We are confident that Studio City’s offering of cinematically-themed entertainment, retail, food and beverage and accommodation options will contribute meaningfully to the economic and employment diversification of Macau,” Ho said in a statement.