Macau received some US $2.765b in foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2009, a 6% boost over 2008’s total, according to the gaming hotspot’s Statistics and Census Bureau. Almost 71% of that investment went into the gaming sector, dwarfing the 15.8% put into the financial sector and the 7% applied to the wholesale/retail trade. The United States contributed 40% of the FDI, with Hong Kong not far behind at 32.5%, and the Cayman Islands third with 10%.
Developers in the Philippines are looking to catch a little of Macau’s outgoing cash flow. Belle Corp., the leading Philippines developer of high-end residential and leisure properties, is looking to partner with a Macau-based gaming firm to build its $1b casino/entertainment complex along a reclaimed portion of Manila Bay. Alfredo Benitez, majority owner of Leisure & Resorts World Corp (Belle Corp’s local partner) said he expects the deal will be done by the end of the year, although he’s playing coy as to the Macau casino operator’s identity. The planned casino complex, expected to cost $350m, is slated to open in Q3 2011 with 1,500 slots and 250 gaming tables. The rest of the project will be developed over a five-year period and will ultimately consist of hotel towers, a sports arena, museum and ‘oceanarium.’
Sticking with the Philippines, a subsidiary of the country’s dominant tech-based gaming firm PhilWeb has signed a memorandum of understanding with Laotian company Simuong Group (SMG) to develop and operate internet and mobile gaming products in Laos. The scheme involves setting up internet gaming cafés like those PhilWeb provides to state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). It’s SMG’s first foray into gaming, but it’s just another plank of PhilWeb’s international expansion strategy. Other countries in which PhilWeb is actively seeking to obtain gaming licenses include Vietnam, Myanmar, Guam, Saipan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and Nepal.
Someone else who should be looking beyond the Philippines is the recent winner of the country’s Grand Lotto, at least according to Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz, a man who never much cared for gambling. Cruz says the as-yet unidentified winner of the 741m peso prize should pick up stakes and flee to another country, lest he reap the wrath of all those players who didn’t win the jackpot. Cruz said the winner “should be very careful” and that it would be “best for the person and his family to hide and go abroad … than to risk his or her life here.” When not issuing thinly veiled and kinda creepy warnings/threats, Cruz described the winner as ‘a pity.’ Takes one to know one, we say.
Finally, MGM China, the Asian joint venture between MGM Resorts International and Pansy Ho (daughter of casino magnate and serious truffle fan Stanley Ho), plans to launch an IPO in Hong Kong in Q1 2011, although Pansy qualified that by using the phrase ‘around the first quarter’.