Casino Tycoon to Change Macau's Skyline - Thursday 12th of May 2005

Macau gambling tycoon Stanley Ho has hit back at his Las Vegas rivals again, unveiling plans for a massive entertainment complex that will change the skyline of the small Chinese gambling enclave. Ho is facing increasing competition in Macau from Las Vegas casino operators, with Sheldon Adelson's gleaming Sands Macau - which opened last year - drawing throngs of gamblers away from the tycoon's casinos.

Ho responded with various casino projects, including the US$257 million (euro199 million) Greek Mythology Casino, which opened in late 2004. The tycoon's Macau Gaming Co. will now build another complex, Oceanus, to be completed by 2009. Oceanus will include a main waterfront structure that resembles a ship's bow measuring 450 meters (1485 feet) long and 133 meters (436 feet) high, Macau Gaming said in a statement seen Wednesday. It will house a casino, a shopping mall and luxury housing. An adjacent 180-meter (591 feet) office tower will overtake the 163-meter (535 feet) Bank of China Building, becoming one of the tallest buildings in Macau, the South China Morning Post reported Wednesday.

The project is designed by controversial French architect Paul Andreu, who designed Beijing's new National Theater and terminal 2E at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport, which collapsed last year, killing four people. Oceanus is "a symbolic entrance to the new development of Macau," Andreu said in the statement. Industry insiders expect Macau to overtake Las Vegas as the world's biggest gambling market in 2005, with the territory's casinos expected to bring in more than US$5 billion (euro3.9 billion) in gambling revenue as newly affluent mainland Chinese flood into Macau to gamble. Located 64 kilometers (40 miles) west of Hong Kong, former Portuguese colony Macau returned to Chinese rule in 1999

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