Melco Crown, Belle raise Manila casino investment 30 percent to $1.3 bln
MANILA Oct 9 (Reuters) - Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd will increase investment in a Philippine casino resort to further attract big spenders, pushing development cost 30 percent more than planned to $1.3 billion, after regulatory change permitted more gaming tables.
Melco is developing its first integrated casino resort outside of Macau with Belle Corp, owned by the Philippines' richest man, Henry Sy, to offer its clientele of cash-rich Chinese an alternative gaming experience.
Melco Chief Executive Lawrence Ho on Wednesday said during the launch of the "City of Dreams Manila" brand that it will raise its investment in the project's initial phase to $680 million from $620 million.
Melco and Belle intend to add more hotel rooms, gaming tables and machines which, together with revised designs and materials upgrades, will take total development cost beyond the planned $1 billion, said Belle Vice Chairman Willy Ocier.
City of Dreams Manila will open next year with a 260-room premium hotel under the Crown Towers chain owned by Ho's partner in Melco, Australian billionaire James Packer. It will be one of three hotels in the complex.
"We are encouraged by the growth of the market. And the fact that we are bringing these ultra high-end and very unique brands also necessitated the fact that we do need to increase investments, and we are happy to do it," Ho told reporters.
The extra investment will increase gaming tables to 365 from 242 and gaming machines to 3360 from 1450.
Ho said the partnership will attract clients to Manila by appealing to Melco's Macau base of high rollers and the agents who cater to them.
"We need to do additional things to wow them, whether private jets, helicopters, you name it we are going to make sure it is possible," Ho said.
City of Dreams Manila is part of the Entertainment City complex that the government hopes will attract tourists to boost gaming revenue to $10 billion by 2017 from $2 billion in 2012, surpassing the $6 billion markets of Singapore and Las Vegas.
When opened, City of Dreams Manila will compete with Bloomberry Resorts Corp's $1.2 billion Solaire casino complex, the first phase of which opened in March.
A joint venture of Genting Hong Kong Ltd and Alliance Global Group will also build a casino resort in Entertainment City. Japan's Universal Entertainment Corp is building a $2 billion casino-hotel complex in the same area, but the project is clouded by allegations of wrongdoing.
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