Feb 8, 2002 11:47 PM

Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson came up big in the Macau gaming sweepstakes, it was learned today.

Wynn's company and Adelson's Galaxy Casino Co. Ltd. were the two Nevada casino operators awarded two of three gaming licenses for the former Portugese territory on the China coast.

As expected, the third license was granted to Stanley Ho, who for decades held the exclusive right to operate casinos in Macau. He currently owns 11 casinos in the city of 440,000 people.

Macau expects the Las Vegas operators to upgrade its gaming industry with glitzy halls not known in Macau.

It also hopes the new casinos will lure Asian high-rollers. Gambling is currently banned in Hong Kong and mainland China, though there are reportedly many high-stakes gamblers in Asia willing to travel in order to gamble.

Twenty-one companies, including MGM Mirage and Navegante, had bid for the chance to compete with Ho's gambling empire.