Echo Entertainment (ASX:EGP), the operator of The Star, has lobbied the government to convert the casino into an international resort and gaming complex. This comes as a counterbid to rival Crown's proposal to build a casino and hotel establishment at Barangaroo which threatens to suck away Echo's revenues. Deutsche Bank sees the Echo proposal as strategically astute while Merrills and Citi believe it offers a competitive alternative to Crown. However, Merrills and Citi also note the risk of limited valuation upside given the heavy investment. Macquarie and UBS retain 'Buy' recommendations, while Deutsche Bank, Merrills and Citi advocate a 'Hold'.
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