A proposal to open more casino properties in the Philippines under the moniker ‘City of Dreams’ is under consideration. That is according to the Philippine Star newspaper on Tuesday, citing comments from the chairman of Premium Leisure Corp after the firm’s stockholder meeting on Monday.
“The expansion of City of Dreams is being studied by our partners as well as ourselves,” Willy Ocier was quoted as saying.
Premium Leisure is an investor in City of Dreams Manila (pictured), a Manila casino resort scheme operated by a unit of Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd.
“We have not identified any location yet,” he reportedly added, regarding the possibility of further resorts under that branding.
As part of the City of Dreams Manila partnership, Premium Leisure is entitled to a share of gaming earnings at that property. Premium Leisure’s revenue from that source increased by 9.1 percent year-on-year in the first three months of 2019, to approximately PHP724.7 million (US$13.9 million), said the company on Monday.
Premium Leisure’s parent Belle Corp leases the land and the buildings comprising City of Dreams Manila to Melco Resorts. Belle Corp booked first-quarter revenue of PHP668.1 million for that segment of business, it announced on Monday.
Philippine media reported in April last year that Belle Corp had made to Melco Resorts a proposal for expansion of City of Dreams Manila. A similar plan had been mentioned a year earlier.
Belle Corp owns approximately one hectare (2.5 acres) of undeveloped land across from the City of Dreams Manila site.
In his Monday comments to the Philippine Star, Mr Ocier said that if the partners in City of Dreams Manila wished to open a second property elsewhere in the Philippines, they would have to secure from the country’s gaming regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp - a body also known as Pagcor – a separate casino licence for such a venue.
The Philippines is currently using private-sector partners to develop a 120-hectare area of reclaimed land close to downtown Manila – known as Entertainment City – into a casino zone. It aims to emulate the consumer appeal and business success of Macau’s Cotai district, which has two casino resorts run by Melco Resorts, including one that is known as City of Dreams.
The City of Dreams Manila property is one of three private-sector casino resorts currently in operation at Entertainment City. The other two are: Solaire Resort and Casino, controlled by Bloomberry Resorts Corp; and Okada Manila, owned and operated by Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc, a subsidiary of Japanese gaming conglomerate Universal Entertainment Corp.
Bloomberry Resorts has already announced plans for a second Solaire-branded casino property in the Philippines. It is to be located in Quezon City on the outskirts of Manila.
According to previous reports, the Quezon City scheme pre-dates a 2018 moratorium on new casino schemes that had been announced by the country’s leader, President Rodrigo Duterte.
It is unclear how any new City of Dreams-branded property could be developed in the Philippines without going against the country’s existing moratorium.
In January the head of Pagcor, Andrea Domingo, argued that the casino moratorium should be partially lifted so that the Philippines could benefit from fresh investment in its gaming sector. Shortly after her comments, a spokesperson for Mr Duterte stated there were no changes to the moratorium.
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"With the mainlanders and Hong Kongers now effectively barred from entering Macau, the only rationale possible for keeping the casinos in Macau open right now is a social one which is to keep Macau residents employed"
Managing partner of IGamiX Management and Consulting Ltd