casino mogul has become one of the biggest donors behind Australia’s Labor Party, sparking talk of a new casino for Sydney.
Ho has donated $109,000 to the ALP which contests the NSW state election next month.
$48,000 of Ho’s backing is to pay for the casino chief to have lunch with NSW Premier Morris Iemma.
Ho is the biggest player in the casino business globally, owning sixteen of ’s 24 casinos. Until the industry was deregulated in 1999 following China’s takeover of the former-Portuguese province, Ho owned all the casinos in .
hosted 22 million visitors last year, just shy of Hong Kong’s 24 million. also surpassed Las Vegas in gaming revenues in 2006 to become the casino capital of the world.
Ho’s interest in Sydney is possibly fermented by his partnership with Sydney-based James Packer whose company Publishing and Broadcasting is involved in two casino developments with the Ho family in , including the Crown due to open later this year.
Packer’s company owns and operates the only casinos in Melbourne and Perth, and has long coveted a casino license in Sydney.
Star City Casino in Sydney was given exclusivety for 12 years when it opened in 1995. That exclusivety runs out in six months time.
Aside from two floors of gaming tables, Star City houses 1,500 poker machines.
The Iemma government has not ruled out a second casino for Sydney but is unlikely to canvas the issue until after the election, and only then if it retains office.
It was a Labor government led by former Premier Neville Wran that awarded the original license in December 1994 to a consortium headed by Las Vegas’s Showboat, and the Sydney-based Leighton Properties. The Packer group was an unsuccessful bidder and appealed the decision.
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