Blaise Pascal was an amazing man who lived in Europe during the 1600's and at the age of eighteen invented a machine that was able to add and subtract. In his early thirties, he wrote a mathematical treatise that is viewed by many as the foundation for modern work on probabilities. l suspect he would be amazed to see the far reaching impact of his work in places such as Macau. Geographically, Macau is a small peninsula jutting off into the South China Sea, just west of Hong Kong. It is the only place in China where casino gaming is legal, and until 2002, all gaming in Macau was under the monopoly control of one company. 2002 marked the end of the gaming monopoly in Macau, and Wynn Resorts, Inc. ("Wynn") was granted a license to operate a casino on the peninsula. In typical Steve Wynn fashion, the company built the highest quality casino resort in Macau; Asian gamblers flock to Wynn in large numbers. Costing approximately $1.2 billion to build, Wynn Macau has generated so much cash that it has paid shareholders over $3.3 billion in dividends since its opening in 2006, a truly incredible return on its investment.
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Casino revenue in Macau has proven resilient and has grown to over $45 billion per year, nine times as large as Las Vegas. With visitation and revenue growing, Wynn Macau has embarked on an expansion plan which will approximately double the size of its operations in Macau. Given the company's valuation, we believe we are paying a fair price for the company's current Macau operations and getting the future expansion for free. With Steve Wynn's established record as a first rate casino operator and shareholder-oriented CEO, we look forward to being his partner in business for a bright future.
The Chinese government has limited the number of gaming licenses in Macau to six, creating the ultimate barrier to entry for competition. With three billion people living within a five-hour flight of Macau and competition limited, we believe that Wynn Macau has the potential to richly reward shareholders in the coming years. Wynn Macau carries net cash on its balance sheet and a compelling valuation, creating what we believe is a prime example of the low-risk, high-reward investment that we continually seek for the Fund. By investing globally in places such as Macau, we believe we are increasing the probabilities of long-term returns for Wintergreen shareholders.