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Macau's earnings contribution accelerates -Melbourne, Perth have modest upside - Sydney's VIP market a key to future growth - 26th August 2013
(NineMSN - Finance)

Brokers took the opportunity to make some hefty upward revisions to the earnings outlook for casino operator Crown in the wake of the FY13 results, but it's a small enclave in China which was really the main catalyst. The Macau high roller segment growth accelerated to 18% year-on-year in June, the strongest in about a year and a half.

Australian consumer sentiment remains soft but the company is considered well positioned to improve the earnings of Australian casinos, given cost reduction initiatives at Crown Melbourne and the expansion of the main gaming floor at Crown Perth. Melco Crown, the joint venture in Macau in which Crown has a 33.7% interest, will enhance this earnings growth. Citi estimates the JV will represent 46% of group profit by FY15, from 22% in FY12. Domestically, earnings upside will also come from a new Crown Sydney development, potentially opening in late 2019.

Key concerns for brokers from this result were the weak gaming floor revenues in Melbourne, down 1.9% in the June half, although these did not translate to declining earnings as Crown effectively managed the cost base. It has further initiatives in place in FY14, although Citi is one broker which still expects margins to fall. Perth is improving but will also cycle a lot of one-off costs related to the re-launch and branding in FY13. Citi notes the consumer environment in Perth has the potential to slow materially given lower mining investment. Nevertheless, the Perth property is yet to realise benefits from additional car spaces, new gaming capacity, new hotel and cost optimisation.

Macquarie believes there's scope for further margin expansion from the cost base changes implemented in Melbourne as well as the transfer of cost efficiency lessons to Crown Perth, which has been re-branded from Burswood in September 2012. Macquarie is of the view this heightened efficiency should boost casino margins in Australia by 90 basis points in FY14. Crown continues to invest in its domestic facilities, which are currently acting as a drag on free cash flow. There have been some delays to the capex profile at Crown Towers Perth, which will now have the majority of spending booked in FY16. FY16 will be the peak period for capex as the completion of Crown Towers Perth coincides with the ramp-up of spending for Crown Sydney, in Macquarie's view.

Credit Suisse thinks it should be business as usual in Melbourne by FY15 and incremental revenue growth is expected to be driven by further VIP play, but Credit Suisse does not think margins will expand significantly as the VIP segment is generally a low margin business.

Crown's valuation is highly dependent on the Melco Crown JV share price. Citi has upgraded Crown's FY14 earnings forecasts by 11% and FY15 by 5%, mainly because of lower interest costs and Australian dollar forecasts. Despite this, following the recent strong share price run, Citi has decided to downgrade the rating to Neutral from Buy. Macquarie also finds the strong share price reaction after the result a dampener and, with limited returns from current levels, maintains a Neutral rating.

Credit Suisse went the other way and upgraded to Outperform from Neutral, incorporating a full valuation of Macau's Studio City into the model. Studio City is expected to open mid 2015 with 500 gaming tables, 1,500 slot machines and 1,600 hotel rooms. Today, Melco JV has a market capitalisation of US$14.5bn with essentially no net debt. The asset base is two casinos, plus expansion options. The broker suggests that the larger of the two casinos, City of Dreams, might be worth US$11bn, acknowledging the valuation seems generous given the risks of operating in an emerging market such as China.

Yet, if demand for gaming continues to grow in the region, Studio City has a similar capacity to City of Dreams and may be destined to be another US$1.0bn earnings casino. On that basis, using a cost of capital that probably understates the long-term history of business volatility in China, Credit Suisse thinks Studio City may reach a perceived value of US$7bn. Construction costs have been flagged at US$2.0bn. The broker's new valuation reflects a US$700m annuity stream from Studio City. Melco Crown will have 60-67% interest in Studio City.

One other item of interest to Credit Suisse, was the growth in Singapore. Singapore is a key competitor to Australia's VIP market and has been growing VIP volumes at both Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World, owned by Genting Singapore. In the most recent quarter both properties posted VIP volume growth in excess of 25%. Despite this, the broker cautions, the Singapore market is volatile and Singapore has more stringent regulation than Macau regarding international marketing agents. In Singapore they can only source high rollers and cannot provide credit to or share commissions with players. These are the key incentives which are used by these marketers in Macau to secure VIP business.

In terms of Australia's fledgling VIP market, Deutsche Bank notes turnover disappointed at both properties, up just 1.4% in the second half. This is an extreme contrast to the growth in the Macau and Singapore VIP markets. Melbourne was up just 0.5% and Perth was up just 3.9%.

It's not just about the glittering competitors offshore. Crown lost share in the second half and it is apparent to Credit Suisse that Echo Entertainment's Sydney outfit, Star, is using its VIP tax-rate advantage to offer more attractive commission rates to VIP players. Players choose venues for a variety of reasons but price is one. Before Crown Sydney becomes a competitor, Echo is expected to double turnover with existing capacity. Crown has not revealed how it will deal with the price disadvantage other than continuing to invest in venues. Over the medium term, Credit Suisse expects growth under 10% in Crown's VIP business, which will get a renewed focus when Crown Sydney eventually opens for business.

On the FNArena database there are five Buy ratings and three Hold. The consensus price target is $15.30, suggesting 3.2% upside to the last share price. This target has increased from $13.99 ahead of the results. Crown plans to change its name from Crown Limited to Crown Resorts Limited, pending shareholder approval at the AGM on October 30.

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News

James Packer Gambling On 3rd Macau Casino, by Greg Tingle - 18th June 2011

JP's Macau casino joint venture plans to build a massive $US2.5 billion ($2.3bn) casino resort...the group's lucky third in the Chinese territory. This will see them look capitalise on surging gaming revenues in the red hot part of the world.

Melco Crown Entertainment yesterday signed off on a $US360 million deal to gain control of the Macau Studio City project, an "integrated resort project" on hold since the global financial crisis and in planning for more than 10 years.

The firms chief executive, Lawrence Ho, advised the property's theme and demographic target focus would be differentiated from the company's existing Macau property assets, the City of Dreams and the Altira Macau.

Construction is due to start early next year and it is believed the partners have no plans for an equity issue to fund the project.

"We believe Macau Studio City's existing land grant and previously completed site work will allow us to significantly expedite its construction timetable," Ho told the press yesterday.

It will be Melco Crown's second project on Macau's Cotai strip, a vast stretch of reclaimed land situated between the islands of Taipa and Coloane that land based casino developers in Macau, such as Ho and Packer, are promoting as the orient's answer to the Las Vegas strip aka "Sin City". City of Dreams is in Cotai.

Last year, Ho said Melco Crown was prepared to build more casino resort developments in Macau and elsewhere in Asia. Packer's Crown holds a 33.4% stake in Melco Crown.

The Studio City site is one of the last prime land sites available in Macau for development.

It is located at the Lotus Bridge immigration point, making it the virgin resort that tourists encounter via entering Cotai.

Before the financial meltdown, Melco Crown had a management arrangement with Studio City's owners to run the casino at the site, but elected to take control of the project after it became troublesome for the owners to properly fund it within the prior structure.

Melco Crown is understood to have codenamed the deal Project Eagle.

The deal ends 3 long years of delays caused by legal matters and a range of dramas between the Hong Kong and US investors.

Studio City was previously owned by a joint venture between Hong Kong-listed entertainment company eSun Holdings and New Cotai Holdings, an entity controlled by funds managed by US firms Silver Point Capital and Oaktree Capital Management.

New Cotai Holdings will hold a 40% stake.

Melco Crown will pay New Cotai $US100m in 3 instalments over two years.

Before the financial crunch, the casino development was to have included a specially designed 4000-seat arena, a 2300-seat theatre, Asia's first "Playboy Mansion" and 4 new classy hotels - a Ritz-Carlton, a W Hotel, a Marriott and the world's first Tang Hotel.

Last month, Macau gaming revenues rose 42.4% to a record $US3.03bn, what Vegas casino operators dream of.

They were rocketed by the opening of Galaxy Entertainment Group's $US2bn resort development at Cotai, which is nearby to the City of Dreams.

"We remain bullish on Macau's prospects and believe high-quality new supply, such as Macau Studio City, will continue to drive incremental demand," Ho said.

Media Man has been speaking to property and gaming experts about the Packer - Macau developments, with 95% believing that the latest Packer Macau project with be a "good to great business and investment".

Friends, good punting, know your limits and bet with your head, not over it.

 

News

James Packer Crown Casino Whale Talks Tourism, by Greg Tingle - 19th March 2011

Australia's foremost gambling tycoon, James Packer, is growing tied of the Australian government's lack of action in improving the tourism sector, which in return effects his casino tourism arm, with the high rollers, schools of "whales", super dolphins and the like tipping to be swimming more for oriental waters, rather than down under Pacific Ocean way. Yep, that's the general school of thought.

Singapore is continuing a roaring trade in the casino and resort tourism dollar, and insiders think this this may be beginning to really snatch away some potential business from Melbourne's Crown Casino and Burswood, which now boasts two of the most valuable and profitable integrated casino resorts in the world, Packer says the time for talk is over.

"One of the problems for state and federal governments of both political persuasions in Australia is that no one sets any key performance indicators for tourism," he told Rupert Murdoch publication, The Weekend Australian.

"That lets people muddle about on things with good intentions without ever actually making the rubber hit the road. Whereas in Singapore, it is all about the rubber hitting the road.

"They are a country that used to get the same number of tourists as Australia, around 5 million. They are now at 11 million tourists. We are at 5 million. And they have stated publicly that they have an aim and ambition that they will receive 17 million tourists in 2015."

Singapore has bragging rights of 13 consecutive months of record visitor numbers, achieving its highest visitor arrivals for a single month in December with 1.1 million visitors, 16% up on last year.

Experts tip the main attribute in seeing Singapore's big numbers is last year's launch of the $4.4 billion Resorts World Sentosa casino and the $5.94bn Marina Bay Sands, the second most expensive casino in the world.

Both casino resorts are understood to have accounted for 1.7% of Singapore's nominal gross domestic product last year when GDP leap frogged 14.7%.

Packer has a few more reasons than the average Joe to be a bit worried about the rise of the Singapore dragons (no offence to dragons, including dragons in training or Singaporeans). Singapore is writing the "who to" book and blueprint on casino tourism, just when many experts thought Macau were the experts.

The Singapore dragons wrath on the regional casino market gave birth to an 8% dip in VIP turnover at Packer's two dinkum Aussie casinos, Crown in Melbourne and Burswood in Perth, in the 6 months to December 31. Burswood really felt the pain, with VIP whale revenue down 14.3% compared with Crown's 5.5 % dive.

Crown states 15% of its casino revenues comes from high-rollers. That's a considerable amount.

Packer points to the way Australia sells itself to the world, and specifically affluent Asians, as a tourist destination, and he chooses his words carefully.

"We are not saying it is the government's fault. We are saying we would like to work with the government to try and make Australia a more attractive and compelling and successful tourism destination".

The recent Japanese natural disasters, along with our our own floods and cyclones in Queensland, are expected to put increased pressure on Japanese tourism, the fifth-largest provider of inbound tourists to Australia behind New Zealand, Britain, the US and China.

"We all thought the Oprah exercise (where Tourism Australia last year paid $1.5m for 100 minutes of US exposure on Oprah Winfrey's TV chat show) was fantastic, but when I was in America just recently I saw an advertisement with three Americans in a Land Rover driving around a paddock watching kangaroos. And I thought to myself, it is a lovely image but to be kind, it is very niche," Packer says.

Packer says Crown wants more from what he terms his "silent majority partners".

"The total taxes we paid last year to the three levels of government...federal, state and municipal...was well over double our net profit after tax. We believe we are investing in our businesses, providing the government with an excellent economic return for our licences and we also think we are working hard to ensure that our other stakeholders benefit from our business," he says.

"The government is doing very well being the silent majority partner of our company and we are competing against some of the biggest and most successful companies in the world and what we are trying to do is bring more people to Australia to spend money and conduct economic activity here."

Crown and competitor Tabcorp Holdings, owner of 'Sin City' Sydney's Star City and the Gold Coast's Jupiters casinos, are spending billions of dollars on big capital expenditure programs, including revamped VIP gaming facilities, hotels, lear jets and more.

"My impression is that we have spent more on capital expenditure in the past five years than any non-mining industrial company in Australia," Packer says. "I think there is a perception out there that these businesses are licences to print money. They are terrific businesses, but they are not that. These businesses have a very significant ongoing capex requirement, which places limits on the real cash available to be returned to shareholders."

A not particularly well known fact is that last year, Crown received the Employer of the Year award at the Australian Government's Australian Training Awards.

Packer's call for a more integrated tourism strategy for Australia is fully supported by Tourism Australia chairman and ex Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon, who is also on the Crown board. "While I am obviously a director of Crown, it doesn't change the fact that our integrated resorts in Australia must be competitive with those in Asia, especially Singapore," Dixon says.

"This is not just about Crown, it is about...the other integrated resort casinos within Australia."

What Crown and Tabcorp are seeking is additional assistance from government and the private sector on co-ordinating visa access and improving facilities at airports for VIP high roller tourists.

In Singapore, high rolling whales are greeted by officials at Changi airport, and promptly escorted through a private lounge area for fast-tracked customs and immigration procedures.

"We have started some initial discussions with Melbourne and Perth airports, and they are quite interested in the concept," says Crown chief executive Rowen Craigie. He advised there have been communications with government and the state and federal tourism authorities. "The doors seem to be open," he says confidently.

Federal Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson agrees casinos have an important role to play in the nation's tourism strategies, as well he should, but he states there needs to be more research before major decisions are taken that affect the sector.

"Casinos attract high-yield visitors that spend on average double that of other international visitors," he shared.

"Through both our marketing efforts such as the $150m global 'There's Nothing Like Australia' campaign and the National Long Term Tourism Strategy, we will continue to work closely with casinos, airlines, hotels, tour operators and the many other hundreds of thousands of small businesses in the tourism sector to ensure Australia remains competitive as a tourism destination.

"That requires encouraging investment in new stock, finding the right staff and reducing barriers to their employment in the sector, while providing comprehensive research to allow informed decisions to be taken."

Chef and restaurant owner Neil Perry, also a mate and business associate of Packer, whose "lucky" seven Australian restaurants include outlets at Crown and Burswood, agrees.

"While I am focused on local clientele, we need a good mix of international tourists to keep this business vibrant," he says.

Chinese tourists account for $2.8bn to the Australian tourism industry and by 2017 analysts expect that market will be worth about $5.5bn.

Korea, Singapore and Malaysia are also developing markets for Australia.

In January, Chinese tourists jumped 63% for the month, largely a spin off from Chinese New Year celebrations falling in February. Hong Kong visits were up 26% and Malaysia 25%.

At times like these Packer must be glad his had a global strategy in place, and is not totally at the mercy of the Australian market.

Packer and his time are also further developing online gaming and revenue aspects of Crown Limited, as well as getting his 50% Betfair better stocked with more online gaming offerings, acutely aware of recession resistance online based businesses like PartyGaming and also watching his mate, Richard Branson, take his airline, tourism, communication and gaming business to the next level.

Don't bet against Packer, but the smart money from betting agencies says that its safe to bet against the Australian state and federal government - with Labor set to fall, and a new and motivated Liberal - Nationals coalition ready to impress the people and the business sector

A Media Man spokesperson said 'There's no doubt that the Oprah Winfrey effect has some positive spin off for Australian tourism, certainly awareness leaped. Just hoe much different was made to the bottom line thanks to O is unclear. James Packer makes a good point about Australian tourism. We have a lot more to offer than just kangaroos. Bondi Beach is great, but so are casinos like Crown and Burswood, and our sports tourism and events are always, and how about our Aboriginal heritage. We are world class. More people need to help give the Australian government the message. Casinos are an idea place to help keep things going in the right direction, with all of the tourists, smart money and entertainment to be found."

CEO Magazine Rejects James Packer Interview Rumour...

Bean Media Group, publishers of the influential and highly-regarded business publication, The CEO Magazine, have today refused to confirm reports that The CEO Magazine will be conducting an exclusive interview with Australian businessman, James Packer. The CEO Magazine is Australia's leading business magazine focused directly at high-level executives in Australian companies. The CEO Magazine is a bi-monthly title that provides its readers with a wealth of articles discussing business strategy, expert opinion, analysis, corporate case studies, emerging trends, leadership, growth opportunities and challenges facing our country's leading business leaders. The CEO Magazine explores how Australian businesses can improve the way they manage their operations, staff, technology and supply chains with a view to creating a more profitable and successful business. Whilst The CEO Magazine is extremely meticulous in selection for interviews within the title, rumours of a one-on-one interview with James Packer have surfaced this week. "Due to the high profile nature of The CEO Magazine, it is impossible for us to confirm who will be included in upcoming magazines until publication date. Content is kept strictly between the publisher and any leading senior executive that have been chosen for selection," said a spokesperson for publisher, Bean Media Group. The next issue of The CEO Magazine is due out next month. About The CEO Magazine, Australia's leading business title specifically for high-level and senior executives. The publisher of The CEO Magazine is Bean Media Group, a multi-award-winning media company based in Sydney, Australia

 

Casinos In Macau, Macao Peninsula

Babylon Casino
Casa Real Casino
Casino Lisboa
Casino Crystal Palace
Casino de Presidente
Casino Macau Palace
Diamond Casino
Emperor Palace Casino
Fortuna Casino
Galaxy Rio Casino
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Galaxy Waldo Hotel & Casino
Golden Dragon Casino
Grand Lisboa
Jai Alai Casino
Kam Pek Arabian's Night Casino
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Kingsway Hotel & Casino
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Wynn Macau
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Casino Taipa
Crown Macau
Galaxy Grand Waldo Casino
Grandview Casino/Macau Jockey Club Casino
Marina Casino
New Century Hotel & Casino/Greek Mythology Casino
Cotai Strip
City of Dreams (May, 2009)
Far East Consortium Complex (planned)
Four Seasons (2009)
Galaxy Mega Resort (2008)
Macau Studio City (2009)
The Venetian Macao

 

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City Of Dreams

The Macau Special Administrative Region, commonly known as Macau or Macao , is one of the two special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China, the other being Hong Kong. Macau lies on the western side of the Pearl River Delta, bordering Guangdong province in the north and facing the South China Sea in the east and south. The territory has thriving industries such as textiles, electronics and toys, and a notable tourist industry that boasts a wide range of hotels, resorts, stadiums, restaurants and casinos.

Macau was both the oldest and the last European colony in China. Portuguese traders first settled in Macau in the 16th century and subsequently administered the region until the handover on December 20, 1999. The Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration and the Basic Law of Macau stipulate that Macau operates with a high degree of autonomy until at least 2049, fifty years after the transfer. Under the policy of "one country, two systems", the Central People's Government is responsible for the territory's defence and foreign affairs, while Macau maintains its own legal system, police force, monetary system, customs policy, immigration policy, and delegates to international organisations and events.

Economy of Macau

Macau's economy is based largely on tourism, much of it geared toward gambling. Other chief economic activities in Macau are export-geared textile and garment manufacturing, banking and other financial services. The clothing industry has provided about three quarters of export earnings, and the gaming, tourism and hospitality industry is estimated to contribute more than 50% of Macau's GDP, and 70% of Macau government revenue.

Macau is a founding member of the WTO and has maintained sound economic and trade relations with more than 120 countries and regions, with European Union and Portuguese-speaking countries in particular; Macau is also a member of the IMF.] World Bank classifies Macau as a high income economy and the GDP per capita of the region in 2006 was US$28,436. After the Handover in 1999, there has been a rapid rise in the number of mainland visitors due to China's easing of travel restrictions. Together with the liberalization of Macau's gaming industry in 2001 that induces significant investment inflows, the average growth rate of the economy between 2001 and 2006 is approximately 13.1% annually.

In a World Tourism Organization report of international tourism statistics for 2006, Macau ranked 21st in terms of tourist arrivals and 24th in terms of tourism receipts. From 9.1 million visitors in 2000, arrivals to Macau has grown to 18.7 million visitors in 2005 and 22 million visitors in 2006, with over 50% of the arrivals coming from mainland China and another 30% from Hong Kong. Macau is expected to receive between 24 and 25 million visitors in 2007. Since the Handover, Triad underworld violence, a deterring factor for tourists, has virtually disappeared, to the benefit of the tourism sector.

Starting in 1962, the gambling industry had been operated under a government-issued monopoly license by Stanley Ho's Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau. The monopoly ended in 2002, and several casino owners from Las Vegas attempted to enter the market. With the opening of the Sands Macau, the largest casino in the world as measured by total number of table games, in 2004 and Wynn Macau in 2006, gambling revenues from Macau's casinos were for the first time greater than those of Las Vegas Strip (each about $6 billion), making Macau the highest-volume gambling centre in the world. In 2007, Venetian Macau, the second largest building in the world, opened its doors to the public, followed by MGM Grand Macau. Numerous other hotel casinos, including Galaxy Cotai Megaresort and Ponte 16, are also to be opened in near future.

In 2002, the Macau government ended the monopoly system and six casino operating concessions and subconcessions are granted to Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau, Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, Galaxy Entertainment Group, the partnership of MGM Mirage and Pansy Ho Chiu-king, and the partnership of Melco and PBL. Today, there are 16 casinos operated by the STDM, and they are still crucial in the casino industry in Macau, but in 2004, the opening of the Sands Macau ushered in the new era.

Macau is an offshore financial centre, a tax haven, and a free port with no foreign exchange control regimes. The offshore finance business is regulated and supervised by the Monetary Authority of Macau, while the regulation and supervision of the offshore non-finance business is mainly controlled by the Macau Trade and Investment Promotion Institute.In 2007, Moody's Investors Service upgraded Macau's foreign and local currency government issuer ratings to 'Aa3' from 'A1', citing its government's solid finances as a large net creditor. The rating agency also upgraded Macau's foreign currency bank deposit ceiling to 'Aa3' from 'A1'.

As prescribed by the Macau Basic Law, the government follows the principle of keeping expenditure within the limits of revenues in drawing up its budget, and strive to achieve a fiscal balance, avoid deficits and keep the budget commensurate with the growth rate of its gross domestic product. All the financial revenues of the Macau Special Administrative Region shall be managed and controlled by the Region itself and shall not be handed over to the Central People's Government. The Central People's Government shall not levy any taxes in the Macau Special Administrative Region. (Credit: Wikipedia).

News

Steve Wynn: Casino mogul moves on Macau
(Credit: CNN - Talk Asia)

 

Steve Wynn is a man who not only makes the preposterous possible, but also profitable.

The casino mogul and billionaire turned Las Vegas from a strip of gambling dens into a global attraction, helping to foster the Vegas ideal that it is a place consenting adults can see and do just about anything imaginable (plus, of course, gamble 24-hours a day).

If that happens to include watching erupting volcanoes and full-size pirate ship battles, then you can thank Steve Wynn personally; he opened The Mirage, complete with 50-feet-tall volcano, in 1989 and Treasure Island four years later. The Bellagio followed in 1998 with an indoor lake, dancing fountains, high-end boutiques and an art gallery.

A keen art collector himself, Wynn owns one of only 39 Vermeer paintings and hangs it in his office.

Glitz, opulence and priceless pieces of art, however, are a long way from where Wynn began.

He was 20 when he inherited the family bingo parlor business in Maryland. But it was an encounter with Frank Sinatra in Las Vegas that made him want to move to the desert.

Invited to a private performance by the late singer, Wynn recalls in his interview with Anjali Rao: "There they were, eight feet away and full of it. There was no comparable thing today about the glamour of that. And at that moment, I was hooked. I wanted to be a part of the Las Vegas scene."

He finally moved there with wife Elaine in 1967, starting out as an executive and part owner of the Frontier Hotel.

It was after some shrewd moves in the property market -- including selling on a lot bought from billionaire recluse Howard Hughes for $1 million profit -- that seven years later he became part of the scene at the age of 32 when be bought the Golden Nugget.

After becoming the youngest casino owner in the U.S. and pioneering the big and brash revival Las Vegas in the late 1980's, he has been quick to change tack with his latest generation of mega-casinos where it's less about things to see and more about an experience - natural light, of all things, is a prominent feature, in the Wynn Las Vegas that opened in 2005.

It's still on a grand scale, like the Wynn Macau his latest venture, which is set to be followed by two more casinos in the former-Portuguese colony. Wynn hopes his Asian flagship will tap into China and the regions expanding middle classes.

"The pent-up demand for the good life in China is extraordinary," he told Anjali Rao.