The recently besieged Resorts World Manila casino resort is to bring forward by six months the opening date for a new gaming area in a third phase of the Philippine property, said the boss of its operating company in comments to Bloomberg News.
The new zone will now launch by year-end, said Kingson Sian, president and chief executive of Travellers International Hotel Group Inc.
A zone that had been used for gaming and that was damaged in the June 2 lone gunman attack – one that claimed 37 lives, mostly due to smoke inhalation – would be converted into a shopping area, added the CEO. The company had confirmed last week that the second floor of the casino would no longer be used for gaming activities.
On June 9, the local casino regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), suspended Resorts World Manila’s casino licence, pending rectification of what the regulator said were “serious security lapses and deficiencies” at the property. On June 29, Pagcor allowed gaming there to resume, though Mr Sian said the amount of visitor traffic to the casino facilities was about half that seen prior to the attack.
Closure of Resorts World Manila’s gaming operations had cost the company about PHP60 million pesos (US$1.2 million) per day in lost gaming revenue, Mr Sian additionally noted, as quoted by Bloomberg.
The daily number of customers visiting the complex fell by as much as a third – from approximately 30,000 before the attack to 20,000 afterwards. Hotel occupancy fell to 40 percent, from 90 percent prior to the incident. It was currently approximately 60 percent, stated Mr Sian.
To add to the management’s list of challenges, it was reported this week that the country’s police were preparing to file criminal charges against Resorts World Manila in connection with the attack. Charges were also likely to be filed against a company that had been providing security services at the property, reported the Manila Times newspaper.
“We’re spending a lot of time enhancing the overall security of the place and learning about what… happened,” said the CEO in his comments to Bloomberg.
“We obviously have to gain back the trust of our guests and the public,” he added.
The venue’s security team had been replaced and an overseas group hired as a consultant, said Mr Sian.
Resorts World Manila, a venture between local conglomerate Alliance Global Group Inc and casino cruise specialist Genting Hong Kong Ltd, was the first of the Philippine capital’s new world-standard private-sector casino resorts. It opened in 2009.
Casino gross gaming revenue has risen in the Manila market since then – partly spurred, say some analysts, by new venues, namely City of Dreams Manila, operated by a unit of Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd, Solaire Resort and Casino, run by Bloomberry Resorts Corp, and Okada Manila, run by Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc.
The advent of fresh venues has also meant stiffer competition for Resorts World Manila. Following the publication in May of Travellers International’s first-quarter earnings, banking group Morgan Stanley noted earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation had been “flattish at an average of PHP1.4 billion in the past eight quarters”.
At the time of the first-quarter 2017 numbers, Travellers International also issued a release saying phase three of Resorts World Manila, consisting of three hotels – Hilton Manila, Sheraton Manila Hotel and Maxims II – was due to be completed in 2018. Phase three would also include additional gaming areas, new retail spaces and six basement parking decks, said the release.
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