State-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) has already received a concept proposal for a casino resort from Caesars Entertainment Corp, but the country’s gaming regulator says it will wait for a “substantial completion” of Entertainment City before deciding on new licences.
Caesars plans to invest more than US$1 billion in a casino resort near the Manila International Airport. The firm’s plan might also include redeveloping the capital’s airport, adding a light rail link for terminals 1 and 2, according to local media reports.
Pagcor told Philippine newspaper BusinessWorld that it has met twice with Caesars’ executives, but stated that discussions “are only at a conceptual stage”.
“In both occasions, Pagcor disclosed that it prefers to see a substantial completion of the Entertainment City to have a better feel of the capacity of the market to absorb new supply before considering a possible fifth licence,” the regulator said, quoted by BusinessWorld.
The Philippines is currently developing an 120-hectare area of reclaimed land close to Manila – known as Entertainment City – into a casino cluster, meant to emulate the success of Macau’s Cotai district.
Each Entertainment City resort has a minimum price tag of US$1 billion. The first property there, Solaire Resort and Casino, opened last year and is owned by Bloomberry Resorts Corp. The second venue, City of Dreams Manila, is due to have a soft opening in December – it is backed by the richest man in the Philippines, Henry Sy, and Macau-based gaming operator Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd.
Other licence holders are: Alliance Global Group Inc and Genting Hong Kong Ltd, which also manage the already-operational Resorts World Manila near the capital’s airport; and Universal Entertainment Corp, controlled by Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada.
Asked if Caesars’ finances would be a concern, Pagcor told BusinessWorld: “It’s too early to think of anyone’s financial capabilities.”
Caesars, which reported a third-quarter net loss of US$908 million, is facing the prearranged bankruptcy of its Caesars Entertainment Operating Co unit, Bloomberg News reported last week quoting two people with knowledge of the negotiations.
The long-term debt of Caesars’ consolidated business reached US$22.9 billion at the end of September, down from US$24.2 billion at the end of June.
Steven Tight, president for international development at Caesars, said in October that the corporate debt load would not be a barrier to the Manila project.
He told GGRAsia: “We have now created a new entity, Caesars Growth Partners [LLC], that may be the vehicle for investing in the project. They [the entity] certainly have adequate resources and a very strong balance sheet.”
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”Assuming that our [Tigre de Cristal] phase two project and the other future operators’ development plans remain on track, we may see the benefits of a ‘cluster’ effect [in the Primorye Integrated Entertainment Zone] as early as 2021”
Summit Ascent, lead developer of Tigre de Cristal