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City of Dreams Manila bets big on Philippines' gaming prospects
Marianne Carandang, Manila, February 4, 2015

MELCO Crown Entertainment has reported strong performance by City of Dreams Manila integrated resort, which has already welcomed 600,000 visitors and high occupancy rates since its December 15, 2014 soft opening.


The US$1.3 billion resort, the product of a partnership with a subsidiary of Henry Sy’s SM Group, has 930 rooms, 380 gaming tables, 1,700 slot games and 1,700 electronic games.


Melco’s co-chair and CEO, Lawrence Ho, commented: “We are effectively adding one-third more supply (of gaming machines) into the market.”


At the resort’s grand opening ceremony on Monday, Ho said that Melco is focusing on the Philippines’ stellar prospects as the fastest-growing gaming market in Asia, which was estimated to be worth US$2.3 billion in 2014.


Initial operations at the Manila property showed a 70-30 ratio in gaming to non-gaming revenue, and is expected to go up to 75-25 in the future, while occupancy rates have soared above 70 per cent since its soft opening.


Melco will tap its Chinese VIP market in Macau to bring high rollers to the Philippines, while also eyeing the “net of prospects” offered by the South-east Asian and Australian markets.


However, Ho said: “Ultimately, what we think will underpin this property is first and foremost the domestic market.


“We’re agnostic to whether (our revenue) comes from the VIP market or the mass slots, but we do think Manila will be a bigger slots market than Macau.”


The gaming boss skirted the issue of Macau, where gambling revenue fell 17.4 per cent year-on-year in January, according to Reuters that reported last month was the eighth consecutive month of decline. China’s anti-corruption drive is said to have scared off VIP gamers to Macau, the only area in Greater China where casino gambling is allowed.


But Ho was more willing to downplay speculation of Melco investments in South Korea, where locals are not allowed to enter or gamble at casinos, but admitted the company had mulled the possibility of Incheon and Jeju Island. “In our opinion, foreigners-only gaming markets are difficult…If one day the government changes its policy about locals, we would jump in, head first.”


This comes on the heels of last week’s announcement by Bloomberry Resorts – the owner-operators of Solaire Resort – that it has signed four real estate deals in Muui Island, South Korea to convert 12.2ha in the Incheon Free Economic Zone, into a leisure and tourism complex under Korean subsidiary, Solaire Korea.

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