he downturn in the casino industry is a heavy blow to the country's tourism-dependent economy. The Philippine gaming industry will have to reassess its strategy, but it may be able to learn from Macau, Asia's gambling capital, which is working to enhance its value as a tourist destination.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino's administration has worked hard to support the casino industry, which it regards as critical to the economy.
The centerpiece of the administration's strategy is Manila Bay Entertainment City, a big development designed to turn a huge tract of reclaimed land in the Manila Bay area into a leisure and entertainment center similar to Las Vegas in the U.S. Already two large casinos have opened in the area and two more are under construction.
But the casinos are struggling. Melco Crown Philippines, a local unit of Melco Crown Entertainment, Hong Kong's casino operator, lost 6.08 billion pesos ($129 million) in the first nine months of 2015, widening its net loss from the same period last year. In February, the company opened City of Dreams Manila, but the mammoth casino and entertainment complex in the Manila Bay area has not done much to boost the company's bottom line so far.
A complex built by gaming company Bloomberry Resorts in Entertainment City, which opened in 2013, also fell into the red during the January-September period.
Travellers International Hotel Group, another major casino operator, which is partly owned by Genting Hong Kong, saw its net profit fall 29% to 2.83 billion pesos during the same period. The group operates Resorts World Manila, a gambling and entertainment complex close to Ninoy Aquino International Airport. It plans to open a new Resorts World casino in the Manila Bay area.