With Solaire Manila opening to the glitz and glamor deserving of its stature, the Philippine gaming industry officially took the next step to becoming a regional powerhouse. Now, all eyes turn to Belle Grande Manila Bay, the joint casino resort venture between Henry Sy’s SM Group and Macau casino heavyweight Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd.
Last week, the two companies formally put their partnership on paper after months of negotiations and back-and-forth discussions. In the end, the two sides finally signed the agreement through their subsdiaries, Premium Leisure and Amusement Inc for the SM Group and MCE Leisure (Philippines) Corp., MCE Holdings (Philippines) Corp. and MCE Holdings No. 2 (Philippines) Corp. for Melco Crown. Now that all the paperwork is out of the way, the project is ready to move forward in time for its opening next year. As part of their agreement, the two companies will likely split the cost of the entire project, each shelling out $650 million a piece to complete the $1.3 billion resort and casino.
Willy Ocier, vice-chairman of SM’s gaming arm and Belle Corp., recently told the Philippine Star that Belle Grand is expected to open sometime in the middle of 2014, “probably June or July 2014”.
“It is not just a casino but a whole lot of entertainment all in support of the tourism industry in the Philippines,” he added.
Belle Grande is expected to rise on six hectares (12,123.71 square meters) of land at the Aseana Business Park in Parañaque City and will offer 920 hotel rooms to go with retail, dining, and entertainment options, as well as a gaming area occupying 1.8 hectares of space. The initial design plans for Belle Grande features a total of six, nine-storey high towers comprising of two L-shaped towers and four condo-tel towers.
Just like Solaire Manila, Belle Grande is expected to target gamblers from the Asia-Pacific region, specifically high-rollers from China, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, as well as “middle income foreigners”.
Ultimately, the goal for all these resort casinos is to get more tourists in the Philippines, something Ocier expects to happen once all four resort casinos comprising Entertainment City are up and running.