Playboy Bunnies Hopping to China

The Playboy bunny is beckoning, and this time it's from Macau. The entertainment empire founded by Hugh Hefner will look this year for croupiers and other staff to work at the Playboy Mansion Macao when it opens in 2009, joining Sheldon Adelson, Steve Wynn and local tycoon Stanley Ho in an investment rush into the southern Chinese city.

The envisioned 40,000 sq ft casino-retail complex — a partial replica of the original in Los Angeles — will house less than 50 gaming tables.

Guests hoping to emulate Hefner's flamboyant lifestyle will be able to dine, shop, stay in a Hugh Hefner Villa and take a dip in the Playboy pool.

"There will be bunnies at the gaming tables," Chairman and Chief Executive Christie Hefner, Hefner's daughter, told reporters. "The brand really represents lifestyle and entertainment for grown-ups, like Disney represents lifestyle and entertainment for kids."

Playboy is no stranger to Chinese customers: the firm wanted to open an exclusive club in Shanghai in 2004 or 2005 but the city once known as the Whore of the Orient rejected its advances.

Expansion into India could be on the cards for the New York-listed firm, which encompasses TV and video divisions anchored by the long-running Playboy magazine.

"India is certainly a dynamic market," said Hefner. "It's certainly on our radar screens with no specific plans to announce."

Two bunny-eared, white-tailed Playboy bunnies — flown in for the occasion from Las Vegas — served champagne at the Wednesday launch ceremony for the casino-cum-mall, which will be housed in the $2 billion Macao Studio City complex.

"Anybody can throw a party," said Macao Studio City co-Chairman and co-Chief Executive David Friedman. "But when Playboy throws a party, that's a party that everyone — stars and celebrities — want to go to."