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Dr. Ho Sinks Oceanus Casino

Oceanus Casino Cancelled

The long-planned whale-shaped Oceanus casino project has been officially cancelled by SJM's Dr. Stanley Ho himself in an interview with the Macau Daily Times.

Dr. Ho's statement is quite frank and clear (though obviously translated).

I Stanley Ho will not agree with the Oceanus project, I think too big, too much, we can not operate such a huge project involving so many factors. It may be a good idea from the start but it doesn't work, I am giving up this project and I think the government is supporting me 100 percent.

Which is not to say that nothing will be built, just not Oceanus. SJM Director Ambrose So (who stated a little more than a month ago that the Oceanus was on track to begin construction in 2010) said that the New Yaohan department store (wedged between Golden Dragon, Casa Real and the Casino Jai Alai) will be redeveloped this summer. Here's our post about Oceanus' location from October 2007 if you want a little more background.

Casino Jai Alai - which is possibly the dumpiest casino I've ever had the true unadulterated horror to visit - will also be completely rebuilt, pending approval by the Macau government, who are notoriously slow in such matters.

SJM Cotai Casino Locations

Additionally, SJM is unclear whether or not their Cotai plans have been hosed by the recent "no more casinos" proclamation. SJM's two parcels include a Macau Studio City adjacent plot near the Venetian Macao's convention center and a second, larger parcel just south of what may be a MegaBox mall, next to the Macau Dome.

My guess is that everything on Cotai gets grandfathered in, that's why they did the whole Cotai land grab thing to begin with.

I'm compelled to wonder whether or not the Chinese government putting the 'squeeze' on casino expansion in Macau has something to do with the political fallout from the Tibet related Olympic torch running protests all over the place. There was an interesting interview with former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz on Charlie Rose the other day, where Shultz - who is at the age where he doesn't need to be political - stated that governments should lay off China right now as it is a work in progress.

Yes, the bloodshed in Tibet is horrible and has been horrible for as long as it goes on, but calm engagement and discussion is always a better diplomatic policy for nearly every occasion.

I am surprised that it took the Chinese government's action on limiting casinos for SJM to realize that Oceanus, while notable for its scale and scope, really is a beached whale that would more likely hinder the Macau experience than enhance it.

What often gets lost in the talk of market share this and architect that is that Macau is a truly beautiful place. The architecture is wonderous, the food delicious, the people are great and the society as a whole is smart, positive and full of creative energy. All of us who visit Macau - for art, architecture, culture, casinos, shows, conventions or as business people or investors - need to remember that we are guests and should be eternally thankful and privileged to be welcomed to do so.

If that means that there won't be a Hello Kitty casino, or that another 10 Mocha locations don't open, wonderful. The people of Macau live in the glow and shadows of gambling 24-7-365. A frenzy which most people only see photos of, less day-trip through, and fewer spend any large stretch of time absorbing.

As the first wave of concession properties have opened, and the second is throttling down the pipeline, now is as good a time as any to take a little breather, see how it all works out, and re-assess the situation for the future.

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