Major casino industry stories emanate from Manila

Mar 18, 2013 7:49 PM

Invariably, major gaming stories have a dateline of Las Vegas or Macau, but not this past weekend. The major stories emanated from Manila in the Philippines.

On Saturday, a $1.2 billion casino resort, owned by Enrique Razon, Jr., opened in what has been called Entertainment City, a complex that eventually will house four multi-billion dollar casinos.

Solaire Resort and Casino has 1,200 slot machines and 295 gaming tables, including those in a high-roller section that offers a view of Manila Bay. The hotel has 500 rooms, eight restaurants, and all the other amenities including a 1,800-seat Broadway-type theater.

For the opening, the property has 4,500 employees but COO Michael French says he probably will be adding another 500. He pointed out that half of the staff has received casino experience in Macau, Singapore and on cruise liners.

French says recent studies have projected that the current gambling revenue in the Philippines of $1.9 billion will climb to $6 billion during the next five years.

The gaming executive was quoted by the AP’s Oliver Teves as saying the opening theme was “East meets West,” thus combining the glitz and grandeur and the sparkle of Las Vegas and the Macau experience of VIP gambling.

One analyst noted, “Razon’s venture is closely watched because it can prove if the Philippines can get a bigger share of junket and VIP market in Asia. It’s very promising and it looks like it’s going to take-off.”

Just prior to the opening, a gathering of Chinese and Australian ambassadors to the Philippines took place for the inauguration of Melco Crown Entertainment’s project in Entertainment City.

Melco Crown, publicly-traded (MPEL) casino company founded by Lawrence Ho and James Packer, is partnering with SM Group’s Belle Corporation in the formation of MCE Leisure Corporation, which expects to open a casino in Entertainment City in July 2014.

Belle Corporation is owned by the country’s richest man, Henry Sy.

Ho, who indicated that Melco Crown will be managing the facility, said the integrated resort will feature three distinctive entertainment venues, including Manila’s first branded Family Entertainment Center, a life performance central lounge inside the casino and a night club situated at the Fortune Egg. 

The next project to open in Entertainment City is one being developed by Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada in conjunction with Philippine billionaire Andrew Tan while a fourth, being  discussed by Genting is expected to follow.

Ray Poirier is the longtime executive editor at GamingToday.

Contact Ray at [email protected].

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