The promoters of the Studio City casino resort (pictured) in Macau’s Cotai district have extended for a further 12 months, i.e., to December 31, 2021, “VIP rolling chip operations” at the property.
The extension is subject to a 30-day termination notice, and was announced in a Thursday press release issued on behalf of the venue promoter, Studio City International Holdings Ltd.
The VIP operations at the property are conducted by Melco Resorts (Macau) Ltd, a unit of Studio City’s majority owner, Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd.
In January 2019, it had been announced Studio City would discontinue VIP operations by January 2020. When that date came around, the property said it was persisting with VIP play for a further 12 months, to January 2021.
The history of VIP play at Studio City is a mixed bag. When the property opened in October 2015, it had no VIP play. Gaming entrepreneur Lawrence Ho Yau Lung – at the time chief executive of what was then Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd , and now chairman and CEO of its corporate successor, Melco Resorts – said that was a “business decision” related to the number of new-to-market live dealer tables allowed at the property by the Macau government at that time.
In August 2016, the casino operator stated it planned to add VIP play to the gaming at Studio City. The announcement followed some commentary from investment analysts about a slow ramp up in Studio City’s gaming business. It was later announced that VIP operations were starting in early November that year.
In its third-quarter earnings posted in early November this year, Melco Resorts said the Covid-19 pandemic had “impacted the construction of the Studio City Phase 2 project,” an extension to the resort. The firm had added it was likely “additional time” would be needed to complete the construction.
In an August share exercise, Melco Resorts increased its stake in Studio City International to 54.7 percent from 54.1 percent.
A minority partner in the Studio City property is New Cotai Holdings LLC, backed by investment funds Silver Point Capital LP and Oaktree Capital Group LP.