CORRECTED – CORRECTED-(OFFICIAL)-UPDATE 1-Harrah’s hopes to enter Macau

(Corrects headline, first and fourth paragraphs to reflect
company clarification that it hopes, rather than believes,
Macau may allow more gaming entrants)

* Says patiently awaiting next opportunity to enter Macau

* Says Asia highly underpenetrated for gambling companies
(Adds details, quotes)

By Sui-Lee Wee

MACAU, June 8 (BestGrowthStock) – Harrah’s Entertainment Inc
[HAMLEH.UL], the world’s largest casino operator by revenue,
said on Tuesday it hopes Macau could allow new entrants to its
local gambling market, the world’s largest.

Harrah’s, which was bought by private-equity firms TPG
Capital LP [TPG.UL] and Apollo Management LP [APOLO.UL] in a
2008 $31 billion buyout, operates more than 50 casinos in six
countries, including Las Vegas resorts Caesars Palace and

It is the only major U.S. casino operator without a license
to operate in Macau, a tightly controlled market that has
surpassed the Las Vegas Strip to become the world’s biggest
gambling market.

Michael Chen, Harrah’s president for Asia, told Reuters he
hopes his company would eventually be allowed into Macau, but
did not give a timeframe or say how its entrance would be

“The government will make it clear when they want to invite
new entrants in, and when they do we’ll be there,” Chen said.

“Now we are patiently waiting for the next opportunity to
arrive,” he added, referring to gambling opportunities in Asia.

In 2002, Harrah’s decided not to bid for a gaming license
when the former Portuguese colony opened up its market to
foreign casino operators, because it believed the regulators in
the 14 jurisdictions in which it operates would not permit it
to run casinos in Macau, Chen told Reuters in an interview last
year. [ID:nHKG188101]

Most of the world’s other major casino operators are
represented in the market, including MGM Mirage (MGM.N: ), Las
Vegas Sands (LVS.N: ) and Wynn Resorts (WYNN.O: ), as well as local
operators Melco Crown (MPEL.O: ) and Galaxy Entertainment
(0027.HK: ).

While it has no casinos there, Harrah’s paid US$577.7
million in 2007 for a 70.8 hectare golf course in Macau’s Cotai

Chen said Harrah’s, like most major casino operators, was
also interested in other Asian markets such as Japan and
Taiwan, where various levels of discussion were ongoing about
opening the local gambling markets but little had so far taken
place in terms of definitive action.

“In Asia, gaming is highly underpenetrated. We’re just at
the beginning of the growth curve. We’ll be very excited if any
of these markets open up.”

Investing Analysis

(Editing by Doug Young and Chris Lewis)

CORRECTED – CORRECTED-(OFFICIAL)-UPDATE 1-Harrah’s hopes to enter Macau