Manila: Heir Apparent?

The decline of the world’s No. 1 gaming hub has put the Philippines on the front burner for many global gamblers; now a $1 billion project (l.) is now under consideration by regulators, outside the gaming capital of Manila, in Cebu. South Korea is also benefiting from Macau’s slump.

Sino-America has no interest in proxy bets

A crackdown on corruption in Macau has discouraged high rollers from patronizing the world’s premier gaming destination. But Macau’s bad news could be good news for other Asian jurisdictions, particularly the Philippines.

According to multiple reports, a new development partnership is now ready to jump into the market. Sino-American Gaming Investment Group, a consortium that includes Denver- based consultant RiskWise Group and Macau Resources Group Ltd., told Reuters it is talking to regulators about a billion-dollar investment that would include two resort complexes: one on the island of Cebu, and one on the island of Napayawan, near a proposed new airport.

Francis Hernando, vice president of gaming licensing and development with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), said letters of intention from the group has been received. The plans may be especially attractive to PAGCOR because they would expand the industry outside the gaming hub of Manila, which has two casinos in Entertainment City and another two set to open by 2018.

“For areas outside of metro Manila, especially in underserved areas, the chances of looking into a casino license would be higher than in Manila,” Hernando said.

Michael Foxman, managing director of Sino-American Gaming, said hotel chain Banyan Tree would act as a development partner and that the Marriott group may also play a part. According to Reuters, the company has also signed on with a unnamed Las Vegas partner for entertainment. The website Flushdraw.comspeculated that those partners could include Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. or Steve Wynn’s Wynn Gaming.

The Philippines gaming market is expected to grow up to 20 percent over the next three years to become a $4.8 billion market, Macquarie Research said in a January report.Other international operators with an eye on the market include Caesars Entertainment Corp.

According to thePhilippine Star, the nation is heading for “a casino boom” thanks to foreign investors eager to expand their holdings outside Macau. The Philippines reaped $2.5 billion in revenues in 2014, up 16 percent over 2013.

GGRAsia reported that Sino-American’s Cebu resort would cost up to US$650 million to build and would target mass-market players. The other property, targeted at VIPs and premium mass players, would cost US$300 million and would be a short distance by road from a proposed international airport for Masbate. Both properties should be open by 2017.