CASINO

US investment group and Macau junket planning two casinos in Philippines

TAGs: Cebu, junket operators, macau resources group, PAGCOR, Philippines, sino-american gaming investment group

philippines-casino-proposalA US-based investment group and a Macau casino junket operator want to build two new resort casinos in the Philippines.

Sino-American Gaming Investment Group, which is controlled by Denver-based Riskwise Group, has teamed with Macau VIP gaming promoter Macau Resources Group, which operates a VIP room at Galaxy Macau, on a pair of casinos in the Philippines. The companies plan to spend up to $1b on the two properties, one of which would be built on the island province of Cebu and the other near a proposed airport on the island of Napayawan in Masbate province.

Sino-American Gaming managing director Michael Foxman told Reuters that the group would enlist hotel chain Banyan Tree to assist the development. Project backers are also looking to recruit the Marriott hotel group and an unidentified Las Vegas company to provide ‘entertainment.’

Francis Hernando, VP of gaming licensing at national regulator PAGCOR, acknowledged receiving letters of intent from the companies but offered no assurance that the plans would receive regulatory approval. PAGCOR has its hands full overseeing the growth of its Entertainment City resort casino hub in Manila. There are currently two Entertainment City casinos already taking bets – Bloomberry Resorts’ Solaire Resort Casino and Melco Crown Entertainment’s City of Dreams Manila – with two more set to open in the next few years.

Hernando did say that PAGCOR was more likely to cast a favorable eye on new projects in tourist areas like Cebu rather than additional projects in Manila. Casino operator Caesars Entertainment has proposed a $1b resort casino project near Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport but the response to this proposal has been subdued.

Cebu was mentioned recently as the site of a possible casino project by the SM Group, although the company has since downplayed expectations that these plans had progressed past the aspirational stage.

The Philippines casino market grew 16% in 2014. In January, Macquarie Research projected the Philippines’ gaming industry would grow 20% over the next three years, with gaming revenue to top $4.8b by 2018. More recently, Regina Capital analysts said the Philippines would likely escape the carnage currently plaguing Macau, which has endured 10 straight months of revenue declines.

Macau’s woes are primarily the result of decreased VIP action, as high-rollers attempt to fly under Beijing’s anti-corruption radar. But Regina Capital believes Philippine casinos “rely predominantly on mass players” and are thus better equipped to ride out the Chinese VIP slowdown.

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