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Hope Springs

PAGCOR, the Philippines’ government-owned gaming regulator-cum-operator, offers an optimistic projection of the country’s gaming revenues based on the expected strong performance of new resorts opening at Manila’s Entertainment City

Thursday, 18 July 2013 14:39
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The government agency that regulates gaming in the Philippines is forecasting the country’s casino revenues to hit US$2.5 billion this year on the strength of the first resort opening at Manila’s new Entertainment City.

Cristino Naguiat Jr., chief executive of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, credits Solaire Resort & Casino, which debuted at Entertainment City in March, with driving much of the expected 25% year-on-year increase.

Solaire, operated by Global Gaming Asset Management and majority-owned by Bloomberry Resorts, a PSX-listed company controlled by ports tycoon Enrique Razon, reported P578.3 million (US$13.5 million) in revenue in its first 15 days of operation, 86% of it from the casino. “We’re getting a lot of visitors and it’s ramping up nicely,” said Mr Razon.


Solaire Resort & Casino

Solaire is the first of four mixed-use gaming and leisure complexes planned for Entertainment City, a 100-hectare swath of government-owned land reclaimed from Manila Bay and located about five miles across town from the city’s international airport.

After the other three resorts under development or on the drawing board at the Manila Bay complex come online, annual gaming revenues nationwide could hit $10 billion over the next five years—90% of it from Entertainment City, Mr Naguiat says.

One result, he says, is that overseas interests are taking a fresh look at the country as a regional leisure destination. “They are interested in the direction [of Philippine gaming] and how we see the Philippines right now.”

It also means new ways to battle the country’s stubbornly high unemployment rate while providing new opportunities for nationals working in competing markets abroad, including Macau and Singapore. Solaire lured back some 400 experienced Filipinos who were recruited for management positions. Mr Naguiat says thousands more could come back once Entertainment City is fully built out.

Current plans call for Belle Grande Manila Bay to open down the street from Solaire next summer. Macau’s Melco Crown Entertainment is a major investor through a local subsidiary in partnership with Philippine retail and property magnate Henry Sy.

The third resort, scheduled to open in late 2015 or early 2016, is being developed by Travellers International Hotel Group, the joint venture that owns the country’s popular Resorts World Manila casino and hotel complex. Travellers’ principals are Genting Hong Kong, a subsidiary of the Malaysia-based Genting resort conglomerate, and Alliance Global, a Philippine corporation with extensive holdings in residential and commercial real estate and food and beverage.

The fourth is under development by a Philippine subsidiary of Universal Entertainment, the Japanese machine gaming giant controlled by Kazuo Okada.

Bloomberry Resorts is also busy expanding Solaire, expecting to open the resort’s second phase in the third quarter of 2014. Mr Razon says the expansion is fully funded and 40% complete.

Bloomberry is spending US$480 million on the second phase, which is slated to include a second hotel with 308 rooms and suites, more restaurants, an array of high-end retail outlets and entertainment facilities. Its completion will bring the total cost of the resort to $1.2 billion.

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