In 2016 there is no casino in Cape Verde, a tropical island group off the coast of West Africa. They have never been there, even in the past.
Perhaps not so strange, considering that the volcanic island kingdom was for a long time one of the poorest countries in the world.
That is now a little better, thanks to tourism. The Cape Verdeans now welcome around 600,000 holidaymakers every year.
But the government of Cape Verde wants even more tourists: at least 2 million a year.
And that is why, for the first time in history, the government of the island archipelago has given permission for the construction of a casino. The lucky winner of the license is the listed casino operator Macau Legend Development Limited, from, indeed, Macau.
The project will not be a modest gambling hall, but a gigantic tourist complex of more than 15 hectares. In addition to a casino, a marina, several luxury hotels, a conference center, a museum and the inevitable wellness complex are emerging.
The gambling complex will look like a Mediterranean town, cost around € 250 million and will be built on a peninsula near the Cape Verde capital of Praia on the island of Santiago.
Macau Legend is led by David Chow (1950, photo), a veteran in the Chinese gambling industry. His company operates the casinos Pharaoh’s Palace and Babylon Casino in Macau. The corresponding hotels are also from Chow.
But the last couple of years the Chinese gambling city is in a mess and not just because the Chinese economy is slowly collapsing.
The big problem for Macau is that the Chinese government is very passionately chasing corrupt government officials. And guess who the best customers of the Macanese casinos were …
Chow is therefore eagerly looking for growth opportunities outside of its home market, he said last year at the presentation of disappointing earnings:
"We do not expect high growth to return in the short term. (…) That is why we are investigating opportunities to grow outside of Macau. "
One of those opportunities outside of Asia is the new casino in Cape Verde, which has a historical link with Macau: both were Portuguese colonies.
David Chow has concluded a fabulous deal with the Cape Verdean government. In exchange for the investments and a one-off payment of 1.2 million euros, his company receives a national gambling monopoly of no less than 10 years. The monopoly also applies to online casino games and sports betting.
The casino also only has to pay 10 percent gambling tax and is completely exempt from profit tax for the first 10 years.
Striking detail: from 2017, Macau Legend will pay approximately € 150,000 a year "as a contribution to the operational costs of the Cape Verde gaming office". So the only gambling operator in the country finances the regulator itself. Interesting construction.
Chow expects that the construction of the total project will take three years. However, if everything goes well, the casino will be operational next year.
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