Melco hides Stanley Ho ties in plain sight

June 2, 2021


Melco used “Stanley Ho’s strong and enduring links with Macau and its business community” to secure the land for its flagship City of Dreams resort in Cotai.

Australia Broadcasting Corp’s Four Corners investigation of Crown Sydney skewers James Packer and former New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell. It touches on links between Melco and Stanley Ho that the Hong Kong and New York listed casino operator has managed to hide in plain sight for 15 years. Melco’s culture of denial enabled its futile bid to acquire Crown that lost US$235 million while awarding a US$19 million bonus to the doomed deal’s architect, Melco chairman Lawrence Ho.

Former US diplomat and broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a columnist for iGaming Business, a contributor to Forbes and Inside Asian Gaming, columnist/correspondent for Asia Times, and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Time for time out in Japan casino saga

May 5, 2021

The outlook for casinos has darkened on Osaka’s Yumeshima island and across Japan due to delays, fastidious regulations and Covid-19.

Efforts to legalize so-called integrated resorts in Japan began in the previous century and passed its final legislative hurdle in July 2018 to the delight of the global gaming industry. Since then, bureaucrats and the pandemic have conspired to delay the process, dissipating enthusiasm. To recapture momentum for casinos, Japan must call time out to fix its regulations. The outcome of casino legalization will impact Japan for decades, so taking a few months to get it right makes overwhelming sense.

Former US diplomat and broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a contributor to Forbes and Inside Asian Gaming, columnist/correspondent for Asia Times, and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Mobile betting on hold as New York pols squabble

April 7, 2021

Genting Malaysia’s Resorts World New York City slot machine parlor at Aqueduct race track could seek a full casino license this year, depending on extended budget negotiations in state capital Albany.

Improvements to New York’s gaming rules that put special interests ahead of business success and public benefit await a state budget deal, originally due April 1. Budget negotiations have gone into overtime to enact mobile sports betting and offer three casino licenses in the New York City area, where currently only slot machines are allowed in three locations.

Mobile sports betting remains particularly contentious, with Governor Andrew Cuomo, legislators, the Native American Oneida Nation and local officials pushing different plans. No regulated industry can ever completely beat the political house, but New York stands out for government consistently trumping common sense.

Former US diplomat and broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a contributor to Forbes and Inside Asian Gaming, columnist/correspondent for Asia Times, and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Seeking freedom via wartime Macau

March 30, 2021

As Jews across the world celebrate Passover, the liberation from slavery in Egypt, this year again complete with a live plague, Strangers On The Praia recalls the pandemic of hatred in the 1930s and 1940s that sent Europe’s Jews running for their lives halfway around the world.

Distinguished author Paul French uses the story of a young refugee with a toxic J stamped on her German passport to illustrate the desperate plight of scores of Jews that landed in Macau. A colony of neutral Portugal in a sea of Japanese occupation, Macau provided a temporary haven and slender ray of hope for migrants seeking a path to safety.

At Passover, Jews are instructed to retell the story of slavery in Egypt so that no generation will forget. Strangers On The Praia portrays another world gone mad with hate in microcosm. In this modern moment of plague, it’s a reminder of how easily prejudice turns poisonous and how far ranging its impact.

It’s also a reminder of the overwhelming goodness of humanity. This concise volume portrays Macau’s efforts to care for the refugees – not just Jews, but some 300,000 souls fleeing Japanese occupied China and Hong Kong, including future gambling mogul Stanley Ho – that tripled the city’s population at a time of great privation for all and tells of great risks taken to help others. Published by Blacksmith Books in Hong Kong, Strangers On The Praia delivers a moving tale for a holiday season in a difficult time.

Macau’s Inner Harbor in the 1930s.

Former US diplomat and broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a contributor to Forbes and Inside Asian Gaming, columnist/correspondent for Asia Times, and author of Hong Kong On Air, also from Blacksmith Books, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Raffles Extends Galaxy Macau Winning Streak

March 12, 2021
Raffles at Galaxy Macau, expected to open in the second half of this year as part of the resort’s Phase 3 expansion.

Forbes Asia coverage of Hong Kong’s Richest emphasized that non-gaming revenue helped boost Galaxy Entertainment Group in 2020 and that bodes well for the future of the Macau casino operator controlled by Lui Che Woo and family. This month, Galaxy announced its Phase 3 expansion will feature a Raffles Hotel, scheduled to open in the second half of this year at its flagship Galaxy Macau.

“The Raffles brand and heritage is perfectly complementary to our strategy of delivering greater, elevated experiences, and true to our ‘World Class, Asian Heart’ mantra,” Galaxy vice chairman Francis Lui, who runs the business on behalf of father, says. Galaxy has been especially adept at landing Asian brands not yet present in the Hong Kong-Macau tourist area, starting with Okura and Banyan Tree in Galaxy Macau’s first phase.

The iconic Raffles brand in a spectacular architectural package fits Lui’s vision of making Galaxy Macau a travel destination with gaming, not just a casino. That vision coincides with Beijing’s goal to create a “world center for tourism and leisure” in Macau. With casino concessions due to expire next year, that convergence also bodes well for Galaxy’s future.

Former US diplomat and broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a contributor to Forbes and Inside Asian Gaming, columnist/correspondent for Asia Times, and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Billions made Adelsons political VIPs

February 19, 2021
Sheldon Adelson and Dr Miriam Adelson (center) at the April 2012 opening of Sands Cotai Central with then Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai-on (left) and then Las Vegas Sands president and COO Michael Leven.

My retrospective on Las Vegas Sands founder Sheldon Adelson, who died last month, has been published in the February issue of Inside Asian Gaming. It’s accompanied by a look at how Adelson and his wife, born Miriam Farbstein in Tel Aviv in 1945, used their billions to change the course of politics in Israel and the United States. Dr Miriam Adelson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2018 from Donald Trump for her work combating substance abuse and support for Jewish causes, after the couple gave more than $100 million to support Trump and his agenda.

As forecast here, new chairman and CEO Rob Goldstein announced on the company’s earnings call on January 27 that LVS is exploring online gaming.

Former US diplomat and broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a contributor to Forbes and Inside Asian Gaming, columnist/correspondent for Asia Times, and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Larry King signs off

January 24, 2021

When I attended grad school at Stanford, Larry King became a big part of my life. Then we became colleagues, sort of.

During the baseball season, one of Bay Areas teams was usually at home and the other was usually playing in a different time zone. With luck, from 4.30 in the afternoon to 11pm there’d be baseball on the radio. Then there’d be Larry King’s overnight show on the Mutual Broadcasting System for as long as I stayed up.

King was my nighttime companion, as he was for millions. My second year of grad school, my pal Ken joined the party – he was already a King fan; I never dared ask why – and the show was part of the soundtrack that began our four decades of friendship. King wasn’t brilliant, but for his interview subjects and his listeners, he was a comfortable fit.

As a kid in Brooklyn, King grew up with baseball legend Sand Koufax. King told a riotous story about driving with Koufax and couple of other friends as high schoolers on a cold night to find a cheap ice cream at a New Haven outlet of the Carvel chain. The story was on tape and King would replay it every couple of months. A few years later, as a baseball writer I was at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida, and ran into Koufax, then a spring training instructor for the Dodgers. I asked him if King’s Carvel story was true. Koufax shrugged and replied, “What do you think?’ with just the hint of a smile.

When I worked as a news writer and producer in CNN’s Washington bureau, in the hour ahead of shooting Larry King Live, King and his suspenders would regularly drift into the newsroom and try to act like one of the guys. For King it seemed easier talking to movie stars and word leaders than to us working stiffs, even though he was doing double shifts those days, the TV show followed by the radio overnights. I saw him dozens of times but I never asked King about the Carvel story.

Former US diplomat and broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a contributor to Forbes and Inside Asian Gaming, columnist/correspondent for Asia Times, and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Biden begins: Make America Great Again for all

January 19, 2021

Joe Biden’s inaugural address should appeal for unity, speaking to the decency that remains at America’s core even after four years of purposeful polarization and disinformation. Biden using four words from his predecessor may get more people to listen.

Former US diplomat Muhammad Cohen a contributor to Forbes and Inside Asian Gaming columnist/correspondent for Asia Times, and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Sheldon Adelson death may move LVS online

January 13, 2021
LVS founder Sheldon Adelson brought Paris, Venice and London to Macau, the world’s most admired urban integrated resort to Singapore and conventions to Las Vegas.

The passing of Las Vegas Sands founder and megabillionaire Sheldon Adelson is expected to have little impact on the casino industry leader’s business. Sands President and COO Rob Goldstein will be the successor, at least for now.

A 25 year LVS veteran who successfully ran the company during Adelson’s 2019 cancer treatment and took the reins again last week when Adelson went on medical leave, Goldstein has the trust of Adelson’s widow, LVS controlling shareholder Dr Miriam Adelson, and of Wall Street. Sands CFO Patrick Dumont, married to Dr Adelson’s daughter, looms as a potential favorite son-in-law candidate for leadership, but the Israeli-born physician and her offspring are believed more focused on their native country’s politics than boardroom intrigue. Of course, new circumstances may change that and more.

Adelson spoke out forcefully against online gambling, citing the difficulties of policing it and highlighting its potential to undermine the billions invested in integrated resorts, as online shopping has done to department stores and shopping malls. Adelson’s passing increases the likelihood that LVS will join the casino industry’s march toward online play.

Staunch opposition to drug abuse – one of Adelson’s sons died of a drug overdose and Dr Adelson’s research centers on drug addiction – likely means that LVS will continue to hold out against marijuana use in casinos, regardless of any eventual industry consensus, as long as the Adelson family controls the company.

Adelson’s wealth made him one of the largest and most important political donors in the US and Israel. Adelson and I had our disagreements, but he did far more good than most of the politicians he bankrolled, a largely odious lineup that includes Benjamin Netanyahu, Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is editor at large for Inside Asian Gaming, a contributor to Forbes, columnist/correspondent for Asia Times, and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Democrats must stand for something real

December 2, 2020

As Joe Biden prepares for the presidency in a divided country, Democrats must decide what they stand for, instead of letting Republicans define them. And anyone who ever worked on a Hillary Clinton campaign must be banned from politics and media, except Japanese game shows that humiliate contestants.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is editor at large for Inside Asian Gaming, a contributor to Forbes, columnist/correspondent for Asia Times, and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.


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