Inside Asian Gaming

INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | May 2008 40 Briefs Regional Briefs Doubts Over Bintan Casino Venture Following reports that Malaysia-based Landmarks Bhd had obtained permission to develop gaming facilities on the Indonesian island of Bintan, further reports emerged alleging the authorities have yet to give the go-ahead to allowing gaming on the island. Bintan is the largest island in the Riau archipelago, just south of Singapore. Landmarks, which is apparently backed by Asia’s biggest gaming company Genting Bhd, announced it planned to build resorts, condominiums and villas in Bintan over eight years, at a cost of S$2 billion. The“objective is to develop a newdestination for Indonesia,”chief operating officer Lim Boon Soon said in an interviewwith Bloomberg . He was also quoted as saying that “five years down the road, having a casino won’t be special.” According to Lim,Landmarks plans to sell five so-called integrated resorts lots of about 25 hectares each to investors. Each would come with a “casino offering.” However, an Indonesian official in charge of development planning in Bintan said the casino plan was rejected “a long time ago,” as the community was against the idea, the Singapore Straits Times reported. Landmarks has yet to respond to the statement. In a circular to shareholders,Landmarks said it had yet to obtain all the required approval for the project. A detailed application on its plan for the project was to be submitted in the third quarter of this year. Landmarks also said the zoning of the area as an exclusive integrated tourism zone (EITZ) earlier this year allowed the company to conduct licensed activities like medical tourism, multimedia and information technology hosting, as well as games and entertainment—including gaming—within the project. But the latest comment by the Indonesian official underscores the risk of setting up the first casino in the predominantlyMuslimcountry. Indonesia has a tough anti-gambling law, and any casino project would likely result in strong opposition from local communities. Genting owns a 30.3% stake in Landmarks, and there is some speculation that the group would launch a mandatory general offer bid for Landmarks if the casino project in Bintan eventually takes off. Genting itself is building an integrated resort on the Singapore resort island of Sentosa. New Taiwan President Could Legalise Casinos Taiwan President-elect Ma Ying-Jeou is in favour of introducing casinos in the island nation by revising the current Statute for Offshore Island Development. The former mayor of Taipei will be sworn into office on May 20 and has said he wants to allow local county governments the right to issue gaming licenses. Such a move is expected to benefit the archipelago of Penghu. For several years, the small group of islands in the Taiwan Strait has been petitioning Taipei to allow gaming within its jurisdiction—including the setting up of large scale casino resorts—in order to boost its sluggish economy by attracting mainland Chinese tourists. Subject to approval by the country’s parliament, Hong Kong-born Ma stated that he is ready to grant licensing authority to local governments in the islands and added that Makung airport in the island chain will be among the first airports in Taiwan to operate direct flights from China. Four Seasons Set for Q3 Opening Antoine Chahwan, the general manager of the soon-to-open Four Seasons Hotel on Macau’s Cotai Strip, said the property will open in the third quarter of this year, rather than in June, as was announced last year. The Macau Daily Times quoted Mr Chahwan as saying:“June was the target date but we have always said we were going to be around the third quarter of 2008.We can only estimate [an opening date], I’m not the one personally putting everything in that building.” The Four Seasons is one of eight parcels being developed by Las Vegas Sands Corp (LVS) along the Cotai Strip. While the building construction and interior are on target for third quarter completion, Bintan Taiwan President-elect Ma Ying-Jeou The Four Seasons