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Billionaire Pansy Ho eyeing Brazil casino resort

Thu, Oct 17, 5:27pm by Ethan Anderson

Pansy Ho, is worth an estimated $4.3 billion by Forbes, and chair of her family’s Shun Tak Holdings shipping and hospitality empire has expressed a desire to create an integrated casino resort in Brazil.

Ho owns a 29 percent position in MGM China Holdings Ltd, the gaming subsidiary of Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts, according to Casino.Org.

Brazil has long been pondered by the world’s richest casino billionaires for a potential resort. Ho believes she wouldn’t be the only potential gaming tycoon to make a bid for a license should the country authorize commercial gambling.

Speaking at a media conference as part of the Global Tourism Economic Forum 2019 held in Macau, Ho was responding to a question from Brazil’s minister of tourism on the country’s plans to invite investors to develop resorts and theme parks across the largest country in South America and Latin America. “I’m quite sure there will be some of the existing [gaming operators] that would be clearly interested,” she said.

On the topic of economic diversification, Ho believes private companies have a big role to play to alleviate the problems within the sector. Ho, who is vice chairman and secretary-general of Global Tourism Economic Forum 2019, said the city’s concessionaires, which are all conglomerates, should also contribute to diversifying the sector.

“The conglomerates have all made a substantial investment in Macau. So obviously we do care, even if we’re not the ones running the sector,” said Ho.

“We do not want to see any segment of the industry be faced with a big [setback]. What we can do, I think, is [for gaming operators] to work together and work alongside the government,” she added.

Ho noted that gaming operators could provide more entertainment opportunities to alleviate some of the tourism operators’ pressure.

“We should be the ones coming up with all the solutions. We would like them to help us in logistics planning and tell more people about Macau.”

Japan is the target

The world’s largest casino operators appear fixated on Japan, which is in the process of issuing three commercial integrated resort licenses. The MGM is dedicated to Osaka, while Las Vegas Sands wants to invest in Tokyo or Yokohama.

The Sands and MGM are considered the frontrunners for two of the licenses. Other interested entities include Wynn Resorts, Melco Resorts, Galaxy Entertainment, Hard Rock, SJM Holdings and Genting. Ho’s brother, Lawrence Ho, is the billionaire CEO of Melco Resorts while her sister Daisy now oversees Stanley Ho’s SJM.

Sands billionaire Sheldon Adelson is also said to remain interested in Brazil. The casino tycoon has made several trips to Brazil to evaluate the benefits of building one or multiple casinos.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said in August that he’s in favour of legalising casinos, which is a change from his earlier position on gaming.

The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) most recent economic assessment of Brazil suggests the country’s recovery from its 2015-16 recessions is sluggish however is expected to strengthen next year.

Tourism already plays a significant role in the health of  Brazil’s economy, where it welcomed a record 6.62 million overseas visitors into the country last year.

Along with Sands and potentially Ho and MGM, Caesars Entertainment and Hard Rock are two other interested casino operators with the financial capability in keeping tabs on Brazil.

Legislation to authorise commercial gaming has the support of Brazilian politicians, as well as Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Marcelo Crivella. Rio is the second-most populated city in Brazil behind the Sao Paulo capital where it welcomes more visitors per year than any other city in South America.

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