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Branson stakes his chips on Macau casino

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UK businessman Richard Branson is reported to be close to finalising a deal to construct and run a £1.5bn casino in the southern China city of Macau, significantly extending the range of his Virgin empire across the globe.

The Virgin supremo said: “This venture will provide a family focus and world-class entertainment. The sector is growing, but existing resorts do not have enough greenery, swimming pools and all-round facilities for families.”

Regarding the venue he said: “It is a massive captive market, with 200 million people in the vicinity able to visit Macau. But a lot of people with families do not go.”

The Virgin Group is near to securing the land in Macau, but will need to negotiate a gaming licence or co-brand the project with one of the six gaming companies currently operating there.

However, there is a big incentive to move into the city as gambling revenues are forecast to more than double there to £7.1bn by 2010, the year that Branson hopes to open his doors.

Virgin will face extremely stiff competition from the likes of Las Vegas gambling kingpin Sheldon Adelson and Australia’s Jamie Packer. But Branson maintains Virgin has done its research and that his ‘gut feeling’ is that a Virgin casino would succeed in Macau.

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