Property developer Low Yow Chuan says he was given a “first right of refusal” for a second casino licence in Malaysia and plans to use it to build a casino resort, if the government allows new operators into the market.
Malaysia currently has just one casino operator: Genting Malaysia Bhd.
Mr Low told Malaysian newspaper The Star that he was given the right to build a casino by the Malaysian government in 1970. The right was later transformed into a “first right of refusal” for a second casino licence.
The octogenarian said the initial casino licence was offered as part of a deal with the government to build a hotel and country club in Langkawi, an archipelago to the north of the country, which were completed in 1973. He added that eventually the casino plan did not go ahead because of lack of financing and supporting facilities for this kind of project in Langkawi. A plan to build the casino instead in Penang also fell through due to land issues, he said.
Mr Low however claims that the casino project was never dropped. He said that in 1993, he received a letter from the Malaysian authorities stating that “the government has no intention of issuing a casino licence presently, but if however, a reverse decision is made, Yow Chuan would be given an opportunity for ‘a right of first refusal’.”
The Malaysian tycoon said he is ready to use this prerogative to build a casino resort, if the government approves a second casino licence. The report says the project would involve an investment of up to MYR4 billion (US$1.26 billion).
Malaysian billionaire Vincent Tan announced last month that his company Berjaya Corp Bhd would re-apply for a licence to operate a casino at Berjaya Hills, a resort area in the state of Pahang. Mr Tan had applied for a licence to operate a casino at Berjaya Hills more than 10 years ago but it was rejected amid protests.
The Malaysian government has not announced any plans to grant a second casino licence.
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”I thought they were wise to recommend five locations across the kingdom [for casino resorts] rather than one or two locations in Bangkok”
Principal at industry consultancy C3 Gaming Group