Lisboa Palace of MacauUntil 2001 when Macau’s gambling industry opened up to operators from outside, Stanley Ho’s company held the monopoly over gambling in Macau. Initially his casinos were fairly basic buildings aimed at dedicated gamblers but in recent years and especially since Macau is the only area in China where gambling is legal, the Chinese authorities have decided that any new casinos must offer entertainment other than gambling. This month, SJM Holdings which was founded by Stanley Ho began construction of what will be a major casino complex of around 70 000 square metres. The casino resort which will include three hotels providing up to 2 500 rooms is to be known as the Lisboa Palace and its design is based on the Versailles Palace built in France by King Louis 14th.

French themed casinos have always been popular for example the Paris Las Vegas casino on the Las Vegas strip. On the Cotai strip in Macau, the Las Vegas Sands Corp is constructing a casino resort with a French theme, it even has a copy of the Eiffel Tower and the building should be completed in 2015. The Lisboa Palace is said to be among the last new casino resorts to be built on Macau’s Cotai Strip. With its Versailles design it is also tapping into the popularity of all things French with the Chinese. Tourism from China to Europe is growing so a casino resort with a European slant will appeal to mainland Chinese clients. The Lisboa Palace will incorporate 700 gaming tables, restaurants, a theatre, a wedding area and one of its three hotels has been designed with the Italian Versace Group. Inside the casino complex the European theme continues with interiors based on those in the Louvre in Paris and on the Monte Carlo Casino.A high percentage of Macau’s revenue comes from the gambling market and SJM Holdings’ Versailles based 3.9 billion project will add greatly to this. Since the rules governing gambling and the renewal of gaming licences have changed to encourage a move away from such heavy reliance on gambling for economic growth in Macau, SJM Holdings has reacted by giving 90 per cent of its complex over to activities not based on gambling.