CASINO

Universal, PHL partner to build opera house, office towers next

TAGs: Antonio Cojuangco, Jasmine Solana, Kazuo Okada, Manila Bay Resorts, president Benigno Aquino, Universal Entertainment Corp.

Japanese gaming firm Universal Entertainment Corp. and its Philippine partner are eyeing the next phase of construction for the $2 billion Manila Bay Resorts project, which is set to open in 2016.

Universal, PHL partner to build opera house, office towers nextKazuo Okada’s Universal Entertainment Corp. is on a roll. The Japanese gaming firm and its Philippine partner are already eyeing the next phase of construction for their $2 billion casino resort project, Manila Bay Resorts, which is set to open sometime in 2016.

Businessman Antonio Cojuangco told reporters on Thursday they will focus on the non-gaming portion of the 44-hectare casino resort once the first phase is completed. The resort’s non-gaming portion will include hotels, high-rise apartments, office towers, and even an opera house, according to Reuters.

Cojuangco, a cousin of Philippine President Benigno Aquino, said the next phase “should start sometime next year because by then, they will be inside the casino finishing it.” The non-gaming portion of development will cover 30 hectares of the total Manila Bay Resorts land.

The businessman’s All Seasons Hotels and Resorts Corporation bought a 40 percent stake of Universal in January, resolving one of the major issues that had been blocking the project. Local laws limit international companies from owning more than 40 percent of the land on which their projects are constructed. Universal’s subsidiary, Tiger Resorts Leisure and Entertainment, had setbacks in its previous attempts to partner with a local firm.

There were also issues with delays in construction. The second deadline for the casino and entertainment complex project was set on March 31, 2015, but Tiger asked the Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corporation (Pagcor) for a new timetable because they would not be able to finish on time.

Japanese media outlet Nikkei quoted Pagcor Vice President Francisco saying Tiger “increased the scale of the project.” Tiger Resort officials earlier said that they plan to add another 97,000 square meters to the resort’s gross floor area.

Now, it’s all systems go for Manila Bay Resorts. On Thursday, Cojuangco joined Okada and Tiger Resorts President Kenji Sugiyama in a topping off ceremony for one of the casino resort’s hotel towers. Pagcor has also approved the resort’s proposed launch date of December 2016, Interaksyon reported.

The resort’s first phase will feature 1,000 rooms in two hotel towers in addition to a casino with 500 gaming tables and 3,000 slot machines. It will also have nightclubs, retail and dining options, an indoor beach resort and a dancing water fountain.

Manila Bay Resorts will join the two Entertainment City projects—Bloomberry Resorts’ Solaire Resort and Casino and Melco Crown Entertainment’s City of Dreams Manila—that have already opened to the public. The fourth Entertainment City project, Genting Group and Alliance Global Group’s Resorts World Bayshore, is set to open in 2018.

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