Malaysian firm agree to build casino in NY

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 23 ― Kien Huat Realty looks set to commence construction of an 80,000 square foot casino resort in The Big Apple, after the city’s Gaming Facility Location Board approved the project’s proposed location in Thompson, New York, according to a news report.

The Board gave the nod to Empire Resorts Inc ― of which Kien Huat is a controlling shareholder ― to build the Montreign Resort Casino, in what would be the closest Las Vegas-style casino to New York City, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) said in its report.

The 391-room Montreign casino is estimated to cost US$630 million (RM2.21 billion), Empire Resorts chairman Emanuel Pearlman told the business daily, which he said will be covered by US$477 million (RM1.67 billion) in senior debt from Credit Suisse AG and US$180 million (RM630 million) in equity raised through a rights offering backed by Kien Huat.

Kien Huat is the private investment vehicle of the Lim family, which is best known for its sprawling gambling empire under the Genting brand.

Genting Group chief Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay’s foray into the US gambling industry has been well documented, with expansion being done through both Genting and Kien Huat, according to WSJ.

Among the investments include the Aqueduct Racetrack near New York’s JFK Airport which operates a “racino” and over 5,000 slot machines, run by Genting subsidiary Resorts World Casino New York City.

Kien Huat’s Empire Resorts also owns and runs a harness racing track and racino in Monticello, N.Y., near the planned Montreign casino site.

Last September, The Star reported that the Montreign casino was one of three casino proposals submitted by companies linked to Kien Huat for a piece of the New York gambling pie, the other two proposals made by RW Orang County LLC which is an indirect subsidiary of Genting Malaysia Bhd.

Kien Huat is the majority shareholder in Genting Malaysia with a stake of 49.32 per cent, and likewise for Genting Bhd, in which it owns 39.76 per cent of the shares.

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