The Philippines might still be characterized as a third-world country, but that hasn’t stopped the island nation in South East Asia from proving that it’s fast becoming one of the fastest rising economies in the region. While other parts of the world are continuing to experience the crushing grip of economic recessions, the Philippines is running smoothly in the opposite direction, so much so that, according to Forbes, the 40 richest individuals in the country have seen their collective net worth grow to an impressive $47.4 billion, up from $13 billion in the past year.
The biggest gainer of this Rat Pack bunch is somebody a lot of people in the gambling industry know: Enrique Razon Jr.
Razon initially amassed his fortune by taking over his father’s ports business, turning International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) into one the biggest port operators in Asia. From there, Razon took to the gambling industry to boost his worth straight through the moon. Forbes has said that Razon’s net worth jumped from $1.6 billion last year to $3.6 billion this year, much of which can be attributed to his role in building one of four new, state-of-the-art casino resorts in the Philippines.
The 52-year-old has made no bones about turning the Philippines into the world’s next gambling destination. Though his stake in Bloomberry Resorts, Razon is spearheading the drive to build Solaire Manila, a posh, $1.2 billion resort and casino that will be part of Pagcor’s Entertainment City project. The Filipino tycoon opened his fat checkbook on that one too, shelling out $200 million of his own dough to put up the resort. The high-end resort is expected to open at the start of 2013 with 300 gambling tables, plenty of fine dining choices, and luxurious villas that will overlook the scenic sunsets of Manila Bay.
The country’s richest man title still belongs to Henry Sy at $9.1 billion, a man who has more business ventures in the country than our collective fingers can count. Sensing the impending gambling boom in the country, Sy has also dived into the industry with the opening of his own resort and casino next year under Belle Corporation, the high-end leisure developer and gaming firm controlled by the family.
Occupying the sixth spot on the list is Andrew Tan ($2.3 billion), another man who has had success in the gambling industry thanks in large part to operating the country’s only private casino – Resorts World Manila – through the Alliance Global umbrella and in partnership with Genting Malaysia.
With the exemption of Sy, both Razon and Tan saw their net worths jump significantly from their involvement in the casino industry, proving that the industry is well on its way to becoming a gold mine for some of the Philippine’s richest folks.