The chairman and chief executive of Philippines casino operator Bloomberry Resorts Corp, Enrique Razon (pictured), says the firm will move ahead with plans to build a second casino resort in the Philippines.
Bloomberry – operator of the Solaire Resort and Casino at Entertainment City – has plans for a new casino at Quezon City, north of Metro Manila. The project will also include shops, a convention centre and a hotel.
Mr Razon said in an interview with Bloomberg News that construction of the company’s second casino may start in the middle of next year, and the project could be finished in 2019. The media outlet reported the scheme would cost PHP20 billion (US$417 million). In a filling to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Tuesday, Bloomberry said the budget was still a “rough estimate”.
Bloomberry bought the land for the new project from the National Housing Authority last year. It did so via its hotel and resort development arm Sureste Properties Inc, for a total consideration of PHP1.98 billion.
Bloomberry’s chairman had said in June that the casino in Quezon City – one of the conurbations that make up Metro Manila, and an area not currently known as a tourist hotspot – would focus on the mass market. That is despite some comments by the country’s President Rodrigo Duterte indicating his opposition to gambling services aimed at domestic customers.
In June, shortly after his inauguration, Mr Duterte had said he planned to stop the proliferation of domestic online gambling. The country’s gaming regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), has since focused its attention – in terms of regulatory enforcement – on electronic gaming parlours offering games delivered via the Internet.
The campaign has already harmed PhilWeb Corp, a gaming technology provider that saw its shares plummet after a contract it had with Pagcor was not renewed. It has also hurt Philippine gaming investor Leisure and Resorts World Corp, which has been required to cease operations at some electronic games parlours.
“I think cracking down on this, looking at it from our perspective, helps the licensed casinos,” Mr Razon told Bloomberg.
Mr Razon chose to expand in the Philippines after pulling out of a casino investment in South Korea and dropping out from a bid to acquire a gaming licence in the Republic of Cyprus. Bloomberry announced in June that it was selling the Jeju Sun Hotel and Casino – on Jeju Island in South Korea – to Macau VIP gambling room investor Iao Kun Group Holding Co Ltd.
Bloomberg News quoted Mr Razon saying that the domestic business volume has grown “quite strongly”. He reportedly added that this trend should continue due to the strength of the local economy and rising numbers of tourists from overseas.
Bloomberry reported a profit of approximately PHP1.33 billion in its unaudited results for the three months to June 30. Gaming revenue for the second quarter rose 42.6 percent year-on-year, to just over PHP7.81 billion. The company reported gaming revenue of PHP12.99 billion for the first six months of 2016.
Total gaming revenue in the Philippines rose 24 percent in the first half of 2016 from a year earlier, to PHP65.56 billion, according to official data from the industry regulator.
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Ambrose So Shu Fai
Vice-chairman and chief executive at Macau casino operator SJM Holdings