January 9, 2013 / 3:32 AM / 5 years ago

Macau gives MGM China's new casino official stamp

HONG KONG (Reuters) - A new $2.5 billion (1.5 billion pounds) Macau casino planned by MGM China (2282.HK), the Chinese arm of U.S. gambling giant MGM Resorts (MGM.N), received a boost on Wednesday after the government formally approved the project in its official gazette.

MGM Grand resort in Macau is seen in the evening of May 15, 2011. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

The development comes after MGM said in October that it would pay the Macau government 450 million patacas ($56.4 million) as an initial instalment to lease the land.

MGM, which operates in Macau the world’s largest gambling destination along with other U.S. rivals Sands China (1928.HK) and Wynn Macau (1128.HK), still requires construction approvals before it can start building.

The casino is expected to open in 2016 on Macau’s Cotai strip at the same time as other new properties by the six licensed operators.

Cotai, a stretch of reclaimed land that connects to Macau’s crammed peninsula where MGM already has one casino, has been a key focus for Macau casino operators looking to expand in the enclave.

Shares in the $7 billion company were up 3.5 percent in morning trade on Wednesday, slightly higher than casino peers SJM Holdings (0880.HK) up 1.9 percent and Galaxy Entertainment (0027.HK) up 1.8 percent.

Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Jeremy Laurence

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