Melco Crown Ent. makes deal for casino in Russia

Sep 9, 2013 9:10 PM

Underscoring its intention to become a world-class casino operator, Melco Crown International Ltd.(MPEL) announced on Monday it had signed a deal to build a $700 million casino in Russia’s Far East.

Lawrence Ho, son of Macau gambling legend Stanley Ho and partner with Australian billionaire James Packer in the formation of Melco Crown International Ltd., made the announcement by telling Russian media he was “very optimistic regarding the potential of the company in the Russian Far East.”

Actually, Ho had indicated in July he was pursuing a Russian location for a casino resort and he was pleased with the response he was getting from the area’s political leadership.

The resort development is expected to create 1,600 new jobs.

Vladimir Miklushevsky, governor of the Primorye district, has been one of the big supporters of establishing an entertainment and gambling zone in the area. He said the announcement will give needed impetus to the region’s economy and will “make Maritime Territory an attractive destination for Asian tourists.”

Oleg Drozdov of the First Gambling Company of the East, a partner with Melco Crown in the project, was quoted as saying an initial investment of about $70 million had already been made. The second phase, he said, would involve about $130 million and the third, $500 million.

He added that the entire investment will be completed by 2017.

Shares of Melco Crown, trading under the symbol MPEL on the NASDAQ exchange, have been among the gaming industry’s high flyers in recent weeks. On Monday, the shares closed at $29.34, very near its 52-week high.

Ray Poirier is the longtime executive editor at GamingToday.

Contact Ray at [email protected].

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