An LLC controlled by Donald Trump’s company has filed four trademark applications in Macau that seek to protect the president’s surname, with one designated for “gambling and casino services and facilities.” The revelation is causing plenty of speculation on whether The Trump Organization is considering buying into the world’s richest gambling hub when licenses may once more become available in 2020.
If approved, the trademarks would protect the Trump name across various industries. The news that The Trump Organization might be considering doing business in the Chinese territory has generated plenty of gossip, but it also doesn’t signify anything tangible.
“A Trump partnership is a possibility, but to register trademarks is a common business practice,” University of Macau Resort Management Professor Glenn McCartney told the South China Morning Post, the first media outlet to report the trademark applications. “It does not mean that it will necessarily be materialized.”
Five years ago, The Trump Organization successfully landed trademarks in Macau that protect “Donald Trump,” “Trump Tower,” and “Trump International Hotel and Tower.”
Trump resigned from his conglomerate when he took occupancy in the White House, but he retains his financial stake in the business. The president’s two adult sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, presently control its operations.
Foresight is 2020
Macau, China’s lucrative gaming enclave, has six licensed casino operators that oversee 38 venues. Those coveted operating permits, however, are set to begin expiring in 2020.
It’s unclear if Macau is going to allow more companies to enter the market, or if it will maintain the status quo and simply renew the “Big Six.”
The six operators are SJM Holdings, billionaire Stanley Ho’s corporation that had a monopoly on Macau gambling for decades, Galaxy Entertainment, Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, MGM, and Melco Resorts.
The timing to seek protection to block any project from using “Trump” in relation to gambling might simply be to avoid potential conflicts with those looking to capitalize off the president’s notoriety. Last year, The Trump Organization won a lawsuit against a small Chinese company that named itself Trump Companhia Limitada.
When he took office, President Trump said his company wouldn’t pursue any new foreign business deals during his term(s) to avoid conflicts of interest in dealing with international leaders. The Trump Organization has pulled out of projects in Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Brazil to adhere to that pledge.
But the billionaire real estate tycoon has long looked outside the US for favorable markets to invest in, and it appears his children are maintaining that philosophy. There were even reports last fall that indicated Trump’s interest in building a casino in Cuba in the late 1990s, despite the US trade embargo at the time.
Should Macau decide to issue a seventh gambling permit, it would also garner interest from numerous gaming companies that lost out in 2002, when the initial licenses were granted. But Trump winning a second term would put any speculation of The Trump Organization getting back into the gambling business to rest.
Despite much controversy, being the incumbent, Trump still has the best odds of winning the 2020 presidential election. Online bookmaker Paddy Power has the Republican at 5-2, followed by his Vice President Mike Pence and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (D) at 15-2. Former First Lady Michelle Obama is next at 14-1.