Casino Lisboa and Casino Estoril in Portugal To Remain in the Ho Family

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Casino Lisboa and Casino Estoril in Portugal To Remain in the Ho Family

Portuguese gaming authorities have made their decision regarding who gets a new license for two casinos. The results of the bidding process weren’t too shocking, given that the man behind one of the two companies is on trial for running illegal gambling operations.

Pansy Ho
Pansy Ho
Pansy Ho poses for a photo Pansy Ho stands on top of the Shun Tak Centre in Hong Kong. Her family’s gaming interests in Portugal are going to remain intact. (Image: Getty Images)

The jury of the public tender for the granting of the Estoril Gaming Zone concession, which includes the Estoril and Lisbon casinos, decided to exclude a proposal by late arrival Bidluck. As a result, it returned the concession to Estoril Sol group, controlled by the descendants of the late gaming mogul Stanley Ho.

The Ho family faced a real threat of losing its position in the country. When Bidluck entered the race, it offered $20 million more for the concession. However, ongoing legal issues cancelled out any money it could have thrown at Portugal.

No One Wants In On Portugal Gaming

In a statement on Wednesday, Estoril Sol confirmed that it had received word of its acceptance through a preliminary report analyzing the proposals. Next, the company, the largest gaming operator in Portugal, has to present its final proposal for approval.

The almost unknown Bidluck entered the race almost at the last minute. It offered €86 million (US$85.84 million) a year between fixed and variable amounts in an attempt to out-maneuver Estoril Sol.

Bidluck belongs to bookmaker B-Lucky Entertainment BV, which has business registration in Curaçao. However, its chances of the Curacao-licensed company securing the concession were never great. Media outlet Público reported last week that Jorge Manuel Galvão Miguel, director of Bidluck SA, is on trial for illegal gambling.

Along with four other defendants, according to the prosecutor’s indictment, he set up a scheme that consisted of installing gaming machines in cafes and snack bars in the central region of the country. None had a license to operate.

The concessions of the Estoril and Lisbon game rooms, as well as that of the municipality of Figueira da Foz, were to expire at the end of 2020. However, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, they received a two-year extension.

In the case of the Figueira da Foz casino, the concession will remain in the hands of Amorim Turismo. It was the only company to submit a proposal before the 30 September deadline.

The concessions are valid for 15 years. However, a five-year extension is possible, as well.

Ho Family Stays In Portugal

Amorim Turismo also owns 32.7% of Estoril Sol. However, Finansol holds a controlling 57.8% stake. That company is a subsidiary of Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau, which also has control of Macau licensee SJM Resorts.

In addition, the chair of Estoril Sol is Pansy Ho, the daughter of the late Stanley Ho. She is also the co-chair of MGM China, as well as other gaming-related companies.

Estoril Sol reported €80.6 million (US$80.4 million) in net revenue for last year. This was a 9% drop from the year before, while the group’s EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) increased by 108% to €10.6 million (US$10.74 million).

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