MGM Resorts International is apparently not buying the Philippines’ ‘open for business’ slogan no matter how hard the government sells it.
“Oversaturated” was how MGM Resorts International Senior Vice-President for Global Development Ed Bowers described the Philippine casino market when asked why the Las Vegas-based casino operator was not interested in opening an integrated resort in the country.
Bowers said that it is in the best interest of the company to skip the Southeast Asian island nation amid the intensifying competition among casinos in Manila’s Entertainment City.
It’s no secret that the Philippines is hoping to capture a larger slice of the world’s casino market.
In 2002, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) started turning a stretch of reclaimed land along Manila Bay into what is now known as the Entertainment City—an attempt to create a Las Vegas Strip-like cluster of casino resorts.
The zone is now hosting three integrated resorts, Bloomberry Resort’s Solaire Resort and Casino, Melco’s City of Dreams Manila, and the newly opened Okada Manila. A fourth casino, Genting Group’s West Side City Resorts World, is targeting a 2020 launch.
Though taking risk is part of business, the MGM executive pointed out that it is one of those risk that the casino operator cannot afford.
“We looked at Philippines a couple of years ago, and we decided not to go there. I’d say probably partly to do with the market, certainly about the ability of the market to grow,” Bowers said, according to BusinessWorld. “There’s a country risk element in doing business in the Philippines and it’s really high. My concern is that the Philippines is maybe getting a bit oversaturated because you already got operators and there’s another one building.”
Aside from oversaturation, Bowers also pointed out PAGCOR‘s current role as both a casino operator and regulator, and the inadequate infrastructure as risk factors.
“And I don’t know whether that’s going to be too much because you need to bring people in. Whereas the local market has only a certain size,” he noted.
Asked whether MGM had closed its door to the Philippines, Mr. Bowers said: “No, not necessarily. We didn’t really close our doors on too many things. Sure, obviously you got Solaire and many projects so it would really be interesting to see how they’re doing.”