Even those who loosely follow the casino gaming world have noticed that Macau has evolved into a major hub for casinos. In fact, the special administrative region of China has 33 casinos, and pulls in more gambling revenue than any other area in the world. Interestingly enough, the not-too-distant Singapore has sprung up to become the world’s third largest casino destination, which proves that the Asian gaming market is extremely profitable.
This being said, the city of Manila has taken note of Macau and Singapore’s successes, and they’re currently in the process of transforming into a major gaming destination. But before their vision comes to fruition, the Philippines city has some work to do to catch up with the giants.
Laying the Groundwork
Gambling is nothing new to Manila since they’re home to several different casinos, including Casino Filipino in the Hyatt Manila. But while the city already has some casinos, few people would rate their venues among the biggest and best that the world has to offer. And it’s for this reason why the city is looking to expand their gaming empire into something that truly rivals other top destinations.
Manila has already laid the groundwork by granting four more casino licenses to companies that have plans for lavish establishments. These won’t be just any casinos either since each licensing deal calls for investors to put at least $1 billion into the project over a 5-year period. Some of the companies that have partnered up in the various licensing deals include Genting Malaysia, Bloombury Investments Holding Inc., the Belle Corporation and Alliance Global Group Inc.
While the timeframe for completion is tentative, the casino projects are expected to be done by 2014, or even 2015 at the latest. But no matter when the casinos are actually completed, it’s a given that their openings will mark a new era in Manila gaming. And what’s really interesting is that there are even more casinos on the horizon.
One of the most intriguing potential deals that’s looming involves Lawrence Ho and James Packer’s Melco Crown Entertainment company. Ho is the son of the legendary Stanley Ho, who owns numerous casinos throughout Macau, and Packer is an Australian billionaire who owns the world-famous Crown Casino in Melbourne. Together, Ho and Packer own Casino Altira and City of Dreams in Macau, which have both been pretty profitable. In short, the two businessmen have more than enough experience in running casinos.
Relating this to the matter at hand, Packer and Ho are currently in talks with the Manila government about a fifth casino license. Just like the other casino licenses, Melco Crown would be investing $1 billion into their potential project. And judging by what the two gambling magnates have done in the past, Packer and Ho’s casino is going to be highly anticipated when/if they do invest the money.
Many of the aforementioned casino deals are set to be housed within a complex called Pagcor City. The massive area is named after the Pagcor Corporation, which operates 13 casinos throughout the Philippines, and the idea here is to include a full-sized amusement park, a sports arena, hundreds of restaurants, shopping malls, beaches, art centers, a marina, spas, gyms, and a Winter Park that would house both skiing and skating. Essentially, the Manila government wants to build something that could rival Las Vegas and Macau in terms of visitors and overall revenue.
Of course, this begs the question of whether or not Manila has a realistic shot at becoming the world’s next big gambling capital. Geographically, Manila’s Pagcor City is in a good spot since both North and South China residents would only have to take a short flight to get there. And as we’ve seen with both Macau and Singapore, the Chinese have been vital to their growth, and this will most certainly be the case with Manila’s budding enterprise.
Another thing that needs to be in place is the financing, which is coming along nicely since the Manila government already has four parties that have invested $1 billion. Plus they’ve got people like Lawrence Ho and James Packer interested in putting more money into the project. To sum this up, the government was hoping to raise $10 billion for the new casino projects, and they’ve got a nice start towards this goal.
Now the main question left is when all of the future casinos and Pacgor City are expected to be in place. Much like with the aforementioned four casino projects, the entire operation is supposed to be completed around 2014, which is definitely something for gaming enthusiasts to look forward to.