Lawrence Ho is launching a $3.2 billion Macau entertainment complex at the time when gaming revenues at the casino mecca are weakening, but the gaming tycoon is relaxed, because he's got Batman on his side.
Ho's Melco Crown Entertainment opened Studio City, a Hollywood-themed casino, resort and event center, on Tuesday with a party promised to feature U.S. songstress Mariah Carey and all the attendant red carpet glitz.
The high-profile launch comes, however, as Macau gambling revenues slump to five-year lows due to a combination of a weaker yuan and a corruption crackdown that's keeping mainland customers away. Revenues were down 33 percent on-year to $2.1 billion in September, the 16th monthly fall in a row.
But Ho, who is co-chairman and chief executive of Melco Crown, told CNBC he was an old hand at big launches in weak markets, referring to the company's City of Dreams complex in Macau, which debuted during the global financial crisis of 2009.
"I think ultimately we built these properties for the next 10 to 20 years so whatever market environment it's opening in, it doesn't really matter, we just want to ensure it's the best possible opening," Ho said.
He said Studio City's non-gaming attractions - a virtual reality Batman-themed ride and figure-of-eight ferris wheel built into the main building are among them - were key to providing what modern consumers wanted. They're also key to the Macau's government push to broaden the city's appeal from gambling to entertainment.