The Australian billionaire (only three billion because his fortune has decreased dramatically) has opened the doors to what is arguably his biggest gamble yet.
This is the $2.9 billion City of Dreams — James Packer’s second joint-venture casino to be built in Macau.
His chief partner in Melco Crown Entertainment, which owns the City of Dreams is Lawrence Ho, son of Stanley Ho who has a colorful chequered background.
The property — almost 40,000 square metres — features 2000 gaming machines and tables, three hotels, a huge shopping, restaurant and entertainment precinct, and a spectacular multi-media attraction dubbed The Bubble.
Lawrence Ho aid, ‘It is a crucial project. What is good for us . . . is good for our competitors and is good for Macau.’
Not everyone will totally agree with that statement.
It is an amazing gamble. If the casino gets a poor reception then Lawrence Ho said it may spell ‘the endgame for us.’
An analyst said, ‘The investment case (for Melco Crown) basically comes down to how City of Dreams goes, so if you want to call it a sink-or-swim moment, well I guess it is. Across the road you have the Venetian. That does about $500 million a year (in pre-tax earnings). The market is generally expecting City of Dreams to do $300 million. If it does that it’s a success.’
Since taking his late father Kerry’s fortune above $6 billion, Mr Packer’s net wealth has plummeted to $3 billion in the past year as shares in his divided kingdom — Crown Ltd and Consolidated Media Holdings — halved.
According to the Australian Herald Sun he is now only ranked the sixth richest Australian.
As well as James Packer staking much of his fortune on the venture, City of Dreams will be seen as an all-important test case for the future of Macau’s gaming industry.