MelcoLot Ltd, a unit of Melco International Development Ltd, said it is “at an advanced stage of establishing” a casino project in the republic of Georgia in the Caucasus.
“The casino will be strategically located in Tbilisi, the capital city, to attract visitors from the Black Sea area,” the company said in a filing on Thursday. The company first announced in November its plans for a casino in Georgia. The country was part of the former Soviet Union for 70 years until declaring independence in 1991.
The company is likely to get a casino licence in about two months, said Georgia’s Deputy Minister of Economy Ketevan Bochorishvili quoted by the government-backed news website Agenda.ge.
According to the media outlet, the casino will open in the under-construction US$140-million Millennium Bilmore Hotel complex. The hotel and casino are expected to open in January 2016, it added.
GGRAsia approached MelcoLot and the parent company for more details on the project but received no reply by the time the story was published.
MelcoLot, a technology supplier to mainland China’s regulated lottery providers, is listed on Hong Kong’s secondary equities market, known as the Growth Enterprise Market.
Melco International is chaired by Lawrence Ho Yau Lung (pictured), who has a core business developing casino resorts in Macau and the Philippines – via Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd, his joint venture with Australia’s Crown resorts Ltd.
Currently, MelcoLot continues to be engaged only in the lottery business. The firm provides lottery-related technologies and systems to the China welfare lottery and the China sports lottery.
On Thursday, the company reported a loss of HKD66.5 million (US$8.57 million) for 2014 compared to a loss of HKD13.0 million in the previous year.
The company attributed the wider loss to the increase in employee benefits costs and to the decline in revenue.
In 2014, total revenue decreased by 17 percent year-on-year to HKD45.3 million. The firm said it had adopted “a low margin strategy in order to maintain market share”.
Staff costs jumped to HKD56.7 million in 2014 from HKD18.9 million in 2013. Last year, the firm’s directors received emoluments of about HKD42.5 million, up from HKD8.5 million in 2013.
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Ambrose So Shu Fai
Vice-chairman and chief executive at Macau casino operator SJM Holdings