Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group (GEG) is looking to expand into the Philippines, according to a local media report.
The Philippine Star reported that GEG subsidiary Galaxy Casino has teamed up with Leisure and Resorts World Corp founder Alfredo Benitez (pictured) on an integrated resort project. The site of this proposed resort has yet to be determined but the joint venture reportedly plans to spend between $300m and $500m to bring the project to life.
This isn’t the first time GEG has been mentioned in connection with a Philippine-based gaming project. In 2012, sources at the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) told Reuters that GEG was interested in setting up shop in Manila’s Entertainment City gaming zone, although these plans failed to materialize.
Apart from a small stake in Monaco’s state-owned gaming company, GEG’s existing gaming operations are entirely based in Macau, and while GEG withstood Beijing’s VIP crackdown better than some of its Macau casino rivals, GEG has likely taken notice of the fact that many Chinese VIP gamblers and junket operators have chosen to take their business to casinos in the Philippines, away from Beijing’s prying eyes.
The Philippines has also been spared the travel restrictions that Beijing has imposed on other Asia-Pacific jurisdictions like South Korea. This has been credited in part to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s efforts to improve relations between the two countries.
GEG could benefit from the fact that its local partner Benitez is currently a member of the House of Representatives for the Third District of Negros Occidental. Benitez is also tight with Duterte, who announced this summer that he was keeping a slot on his party’s ticket open for Benitez should he decide to run for a Senate seat in 2019.
While the GEG project’s reported financial outlay would be relatively small compared to some of the Entertainment City resorts, GEG’s arrival would be a welcome step for a market that has struggled to attract big international investors. As for whether the Philippine casino market can absorb another entrant, analysts noted the lack of cannibalization following the recent opening of Okada Manila, suggesting there’s still some slack to be taken up.