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HONG KONG, May 2 (Reuters) - Steve Wynn's $17 billion Macau casino company, Wynn Macau Ltd, has received formal approval from the government to begin construction on a new project in the world's largest gambling destination.
Wynn Macau, a subsidiary of Wynn Resorts Ltd, said on Wednesday it can now break ground on its 51-acre site on Macau's developing Cotai strip, according to a press release posted on its website.
The approval is critical for Wynn, putting it ahead of rivals in Macau including MGM Resorts' MGM China and Macau kingpin Stanley Ho's SJM Holdings, all of whom are racing to secure a larger share of the lucrative gambling market.
Macau, located on China's southern tip, has been a goldmine for the six casino players because of pent up demand from mainland visitors and high rolling VIPs, eager to place their bets in the only city where Chinese citizens are legally allowed to gamble in casinos.
Steve Wynn, the Las Vegas casino mogul behind Wynn Resorts, is also locked in a legal battle with his former Japanese partner over financial documents relating to a $135 million company donation to the University of Macau and other financial payments.
Wynn, who already has a property on Macau's crowded peninsula, has been eager to develop on Macau's Cotai strip where U.S. billionaire Sheldon Adelson has two properties and where Asian players Galaxy Entertainment and Melco Crown also have operations.
Shares in Wynn Macau were suspended on Wednesday ahead of the announcement.