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Daily Archives: February 2, 2008

Gaming arrives in the Inner Harbour


 by Nigel Huxtable

One-time owner of Macau's gaming market unveiled its latest resort last night as it positions itself to ensure the peninsular remains the SAR's “gambling centre”.

Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM) opened the casino of its HKD3.1 billion Inner Harbour resort Ponte 16, a joint venture with Hong Kong Stock Exchange listed Macau Success Limited.
In front of the 23,000 square metre site invited guests seated in a temporary grandstand braved freezing conditions to watch chief executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah and the major shareholder of SJM, Stanley Ho Hung-sun open the company's nineteenth casino in the city.
Two floors of mass gaming area and three restaurants and three bars were opened to the public at 10 pm. Once completed the resort will also offer hotel, retail and convention facilities. Last night 120 of the Sofitel Macau's 389 rooms and 19 VIP mansions were opened for the resort's invited VIPs.
Yesterday's opening strengthened SJM's foothold in the peninsula and sees it positioned at an entry point for mainland visitors that it expects will become more popular.
A ferry terminal next door operates services to Zhuhai, Shekou and Jiangmen in the Guangdong provice, however it is a potential tunnel across the harbour that has Ponte 16 executives most excited. Dr So said both governments are talking about the project, however admitted no target opening date has been set.
SJM also gave some insight into its strategy to tackle the new gaming operators.
“We think in the future, Macau proper will remain a gambling centre while Cotai will cater to other customers such as the exhibition visitors,” said Dr So.
Ponte 16 is also the first resort to open in the Inner Harbour area, a point emphasised by the developers. Hotel guests are offered a view of the inner harbour replete with docked fishing fleet or  on the other side of the building a vista filled with aged dwellings and UNESCO heritage sites.
“In perfect harmony with the surrounding areas, the property allows locals and visitors alike the luxury of reminiscing over the classic architectural heritage … of our modern city,” said Dr So.
However relations with its neighbours are not going quite so smoothly. Ponte 16 is still trying to convince residents to vacate apartments to the south of the development where it plans to build 46,450 square metres of retail malls.

Unhappy police put black crosses on beach as Rio carnival begins

Disgruntled police protesting pay and work conditions planted symbolic black crosses on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro yesterday, as the city prepared to kick off its famous Carnival.
Bemused tourists stopped to take snaps of the 586 black markers standing stark on the bright sand. Some locals deposited flowers in support.
The crosses represented the number of officers killed in the line of duty over the past four years.
"It's a symbolic act to denounce the bad working conditions and low pay for police," Colonel Dilson Ferreira de Anaide, the head of the military police officers' association of Rio, told AFP.
He added, though, that their demands — which have sparked a crisis between the force and the state government — would not affect security at carnival festivities getting underway late Friday and run to Tuesday.
"Carnival security will be completely assured," he said.
Rio's state government early this week sacked the military police service's chief and nine other senior commanders for permitting officers to hold a demonstration demanding more pay.
At least 47 officers, many of them high up, subsequently handed in their resignations to protest the move.
The military police service, which is responsible for public safety during carnival as well as for battling drug gangs in the crime-ridden city slums, is calling for officers' pay to be brought into line with their civilian police counterparts.
Currently, officers at the start of their careers earn 850 reals (480 dollars) monthly.
A banner in front of the crosses declared: "586 deaths for less than 30 reals per day."
The police association said negotiations with the state would resume February 11, after carnival.