Two Philippine firms linked to the City of Dreams Manila casino resort issued on Wednesday clarifications on commentary this week – that had been reported by local media – suggesting the resort’s brand might be used for expanded operations in that country.
“We confirm that Premium Leisure Corp is always open to expansion opportunities. We note, however, that any [ideas on] expansion of City of Dreams Manila are merely exploratory at this time, and no definite plans have been made as of yet,” said that firm in a filing to the Philippine Stock Exchange.
Belle Corp said in its own clarification on the topic, and referring to the country’s casino regulator: “Any matters regarding an application by Belle or its subsidiary Premium Leisure Corp for a second licence for an integrated resort with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) are still being explored, and there are no definite plans at this time.”
Talk of a physical expansion to the City of Dreams Manila casino resort itself has been circulated by Belle Corp since at least 2014, before the existing property actually opened. Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd, the parent of the operating unit for the resort, has since appeared to distance itself from the debate.
An exercise to buy up and ultimately delist from the Philippine Stock Exchange the stock of Melco Resorts and Entertainment (Philippines) Corp – the Melco Resorts unit that runs City of Dreams Manila – began last year.
Premium Leisure and Belle Corp had in 2017 stood by the notion of expanding City of Dreams Manila. Premium Leisure is entitled to a share of gaming earnings at that property. Belle Corp leases out the land and the buildings of the resort.
Premium Leisure has now resurrected the idea of some sort of expansion in the Philippines of the City of Dreams franchise. That was according to commentary reported by the Philippine Star newspaper on Tuesday, which cited comments from Premium Leisure chairman Willy Ocier at the firm’s stockholder meeting on Monday.
Mr Ocier said in his commentary: “The expansion of City of Dreams is being studied by our partners as well as ourselves.”
Premium Leisure’s revenue from its share of gaming earnings from the existing casino resort operation was about PHP724.7 million (US$13.9 million) in the first quarter of this year, 9.1 percent more than a year earlier.
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 on new projects.
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 the country’s leader, President Rodrigo Duterte, stated there were no changes envisaged to the moratorium.
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"There’s a huge amount of possibilities out there and in the case of Macau, it seems that some of these issues should be considered or we may lose the epithet of gambling capital of the world"
Macau-based lawyer and senior partner at law firm Rato, Ling, Lei and Cortés