CASINO

Universal Ent. plans mega-Manila resort casino; PAGCOR’s record revenues

TAGs: Manila, PAGCOR, Philippines, Universal Entertainment Corp.

universal-entertainment-pagcorWhile Japan has yet to authorize the construction of any resort casinos on its home soil, that hasn’t stopped Japanese companies from eyeing such ventures abroad. Universal Entertainment Corp., a prominent manufacturer of pinball-like pachinko machines and the single biggest shareholder (19.7%) in Wynn Resorts Ltd., is looking to invest $2.3b in a casino/hotel complex in Manila that will feature three hotels, 500 gaming tables and 3,000 slot machines. Universal chairman Kazuo Okada expects the project to open in 2014 and produce $2b in revenue in its first year of operation.

That figure would represent triple the amount Universal made selling pachinko machines last year, but Okada expects the pile of filthy lucre will only grow larger with time. “The sales will start to increase faster after a point in the period of 2014 to 2015, as Asia’s economy will build up. It will benefit the casino market.” In 2008, Universal paid $350m for the land on which the Manila project will be built, but Tokyo-based analyst Takashi Oka told Bloomberg that “there is no clear picture” yet as to how Universal intends to raise the vast sums necessary to make the project a go. For his part, Okada says “investors have already approached us, proposing to join our project,” but he declined to make their names public.

Raising money isn’t a problem for the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), the government-controlled gambling outfit. PAGCOR’s August earnings were up 26% over the same month last year, and also set a record for the highest monthly revenue ever recorded, at PHP 3.11b (US $71.5m). PAGCOR is on a serious roll, having set similar records in each of the previous three months (3.03b in May, 3.05b in June and 3.1b in July). For the year to date, PAGCOR’s earnings are up 11.87% over 2010. Credit for the boffo numbers goes to strong performances by its casino operations, as well as keeping a sharp eye on expenses, which are down P675m ($15.5m) for the year.

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