Trump Back in the Casino Biz?

DTTM Operations LLC, a company associated with U.S. President Donald Trump, has been approved by Macau lawmakers to register trademarks including casino services to bring the Trump brand to the gaming hub. Most doubt that a Trump casino will soon operate in the SAR.

Analysts: Trump wouldn’t be Macau’s first choice

A company called DTTM Operations LLC, which has been linked to United States President Donald Trump and lists the mogul’s Trump Tower in New York as its base, has been granted four trademark approvals by the government of Macau, home of the world’s premier gaming industry.

The trademarks—related to real estate services, construction, hotels and conference facilities, restaurants, casino operations and hospitality—were granted June 7, according to Reuters, which cited online documents. The divisive American president has said he would pass on his business interests to a trust overseen by one of his sons along with a Trump Organization executive, the news outlet reported. But he would remain linked to the trust financially.

In 2005, Trump registered several trademarks in the Chinese territory under the names Donald J. Trump, DTTM and Trump Companhia Limitada. The new applications, posted in the government’s Official Gazette, are identical to four brands granted in 2006, but that lapsed earlier this year, reported GGRAsia. There are currently no Trump-branded businesses in Macau.

According to Newsweek, Trump also filed for trademark registration for Trump Tower and Trump International Hotel and Tower in Macau in 2006 and 2008. And last March, Mainland China approved 38 Trump trademarks, including ones for hotels and golf resorts. Macau Business stated, “Particularly noteworthy in the series of trademark applications requested is the one for ‘gambling and casino services and casino facilities.’”

The news has sparked questions about whether the onetime casino magnate will get back in the gaming business. Trump once owned three casinos in Atlantic City, all bearing his name: Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Plaza and Trump Marina. In 2016, the Trump Organization sold its stake in Trump Entertainment Resorts; the aging Taj Mahal, located on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, was recently acquired by Hard Rock International, which will reopen it as a casino resort under that brand.

Brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd in a note last week said Trump is unlikely to get back into gaming, though he might be tempted to nab a gaming concession between 2020 and 2022, when the current Big 6 concessionaires come up for review.

“It is more likely that Trump is just protecting the use of his brand name rather than trying to get a casino license in Macau (a prospect that we find to be impossible),” said Bernstein analysts Vitaly Umansky and Zhen Gong.

The Trump Organization told CNN Money it “has been zealously enforcing and protecting its intellectual property rights around the world for more than 20 years, particularly in jurisdictions where trademark infringement is rampant.” The trademark applications in Macau “simply represent a continuation of those efforts,” the company said.

And Alex Bumazhny, senior director for gaming at Fitch Ratings, told the Associated Press it would “be a long shot” for Trump-related businesses to win a gaming license in Macau. “If Macau does look west for a new gaming concessionaire, there are a handful of publicly traded gaming companies with more recent track records of developing and operating large-scale casino resorts,” he stated.