International edition
September 23, 2021

Pagcor awarded four licenses in 2008 and 2009 to operate casino resorts in the area

Melco interested in us$ 1 billion Manila casino project

(Philippines).- A casino operator run by Australian billionaire James Packer and the son of Macau gambling tycoon Stanley Ho, has expressed interest in investing in a us$1 billion Manila casino project, the Philippine gambling regulator said last Tuesday.

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nbsp;Melco Crown Entertainment was "very interested" in the project, Cristino Naguiat, chairman of the state-owned Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp (Pagcor), told Reutersafter meeting with Melco officials last week in Manila.


He said Galaxy Entertainment Group was also interested in a project of more than 100-hectare Entertainment City near Manila Bay, construction of which is to begin late next year.


Pagcor, awarded four licenses in 2008 and 2009 to operate casino resorts in the Manila Bay area and expects the resorts to generate annual gambling revenue of as much as us$11 billion, after five years of operation, overtaking Las Vegas. Pagcor requires a minimum investment of us$1 billion from any firm awarded a gaming license, Naguiat said.


Naguiat did not know if Melco was looking for local partners, but said Galaxy was in talks with local groups and "could be" in discussions with local property and leisure firm Belle Corp (BEL.PS) for a partnership.


Belle, controlled by the country's richest man Henry Sy, was looking to lease at least 10 hectares of land from Pagcor for its second casino project in Entertainment City. The project could also cost us$1 billion.


Belle is building an integrated entertainment resort complex called Belle Grande Manila Bay, which features a 30,000-square-metre casino, within the Entertainment City.


Three other groups are pursuing developments in Entertainment City, the biggest being the us$2 billion casino-hotel project being built by a unit of Japan's Universal Entertainment Corp, set for completion in 2014.


The other developers are Bloomsbury Investments and the joint venture between Genting Hong Kong and Alliance Global Group.
Naguiat said Universal Entertainment remained interested in pursuing its Philippine project despite a much-publicised fight between Japanese gaming mogul Kazuo Okada and his former business partner, Las Vegas casino tycoon Steve Wynn.


Okada owns Universal Entertainment and Wynn is CEO at Wynn Resorts. Both claim the other made improper payments to win favour in their respective Macau and Philippines markets.


"I don't know what's going on between Okada and Wynn. We have to be outside that fight," Naguiat said. "From the way I look at it, there was nothing wrong with our transactions with Okada."


Naguiat said he had discussed the issue with Okada, who promised to pursue his Philippine project. "No change in plans, everything will push through."
Pagcor grew its total revenues by 16.5 % to a record 36.7 billion pesos last year. It expects revenues to grow at least 16 % this year.

 

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