Melco Crown says on track to open $1 bln Philippine casino by mid-2014

MANILA, June 21 Fri Jun 21, 2013 4:54am EDT

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MANILA, June 21 (Reuters) - The Philippine unit of Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd is on track to open its $1 billion gaming complex in Manila by mid-2014, targeting not just Chinese gamblers but Southeast Asian high-rollers as well, its president said on Friday.

Melco Crown (Philippines) Resorts Corp will build a 950-room hotel, open 240 tables and put up 1,250 slot machines in the integrated resort to compete with Bloomberry Resorts Corp's $1.2 billion Solaire casino complex.

"We will open everything in one go in mid-2014," Clarence Chung, chairman and president of Melco Philippines, told reporters after a stockholders' meeting. The project is already fully funded, he said.

Melco Crown, run by Australian billionaire James Packer and the son of Macau gambling tycoon Stanley Ho, has teamed up with Philippine leisure firm Belle Corp to develop and operate the resort in the 100 hectare Entertainment City gaming complex in Manila.

It is Melco Crown's first casino outside Macau.

Chung said Melco will take advantage of its Macau "connections and VIP database" in promoting its Manila operations.

"The Chinese would definitely be one of the major targets and, obviously, we're targeting the Southeast Asians," he said.

Industry regulator Philippine Amusement Gaming Corp (Pagcor) expects the country's gaming industry to generate total revenue of $2.5 billion this year with the opening in March of Bloomberry's Solaire.

By 2017, Pagcor sees annual revenue from gaming hitting $10 billion with all four casino resorts in Entertainment City up and running, surpassing the $6 billion markets boasted by Singapore and Las Vegas.

The biggest of the four projects is a $2 billion casino-hotel complex planned by a unit of Japan's Universal Entertainment Corp.

A joint venture between Genting Hong Kong Ltd and Alliance Global Group has also been awarded a license to operate in Entertainment City.

(Reporting by Erik dela Cruz; Editing by Matt Driskill)

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