CHAIRMAN AND CEO
Melco Resorts and Entertainment
CHAIRMAN AND CEO
Melco International Development
Studio City International Holdings
POWER SCORE: 2,281
POSITION LAST YEAR: 2
CLAIMS TO FAME
- One of only two operators with multiple properties on Macau’s Cotai Strip
- Pursuing global expansion into Cyprus
- Lone Macau operator present in the Philippines with City of Dreams Manila
MUCH LIKE Macau’s trio of US-based operators, Lawrence Ho’s Melco Resorts & Entertainment can take solace in the fact that it boasts casino operations outside of the Chinese gaming enclave.
While the Macau SAR continues to slump on the back of China’s strict COVID-zero policies, other jurisdictions around the world are booming – good news for Melco given its presence in the Philippines and broader global ambitions in Cyprus.
Melco remains the only of Macau’s six concessionaires with a presence in the Philippines via City of Dreams Manila, and it saw the benefit of that in the June 2022 quarter when the Manila IR recorded a 112% year-on-year and 28.5% quarter-on-quarter increase in revenues to US$111.7 million. Adjusted EBITDA also increased by almost 400% to US$49.0 million – highlighting the strong recovery trajectory currently being experienced across most of Asia.
Nevertheless, it is hard to overlook the fact that Melco is now on a run of 10 straight quarters of group-wide losses as a result of the company’s considerable Macau presence. The company operates three Macau resorts in City of Dreams Macau, Studio City and Altira Macau, with its net loss of US$251.1 million in 2Q22 significantly wider than both Q1 and the second quarter of 2021.
Little wonder the company has opted to postpone the opening of its Studio City Phase 2 development by six months until mid-2023, allowing additional time for the pandemic situation in Macau to ease.
Also delayed until at least 2Q23 is the launch of Melco’s €550 million Cyprus integrated resort City of Dreams Mediterranean. Billed as Europe’s largest integrated resort, CoD Mediterranean will feature a 7,500-square meter casino with 100 gaming tables and 1,000 slot machines, plus feature a 500-room, 5-star hotel, MICE space and restaurants once fully operational.
But for now, all eyes remain firmly fixed on Macau where Melco is among the seven companies in the running to win one of six new 10-year casino concessions, starting from 1 January 2023, under the SAR’s ongoing re-tender process. Certainly it would be hard to imagine a modern-day Macau without Lawrence Ho playing a significant role.
Originally pursuing a career in investment banking, Ho – the son of Macau casino pioneer Stanley Ho – instead followed in his father’s footsteps when he partnered with Australia’s Crown Resorts and its billionaire owner James Packer in 2006 to buy the Macau gaming sub-concession granted to Wynn Resorts.
That partnership saw the formation of Melco Crown – listed on the NASDAQ that same year – which launched Altira in 2007, followed by City of Dreams Macau in 2009 and City of Dreams Manila five years later. Studio City, of which Melco Crown held an initial 60% stake, launched in 2016, however the Melco Crown partnership didn’t last much longer with Ho buying out his partner’s stake in 2017 to forge ahead solo.
While subsequent efforts by Ho to buy into Crown’s core Australian business and to develop an integrated resort in Yokohama, Japan, ultimately fell through, his penchant for following his dreams will no doubt see many new chapters added to the Melco Resorts story in the years ahead.
For the full list of 2022 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.