MANILA, March 21 The Philippine gaming regulator
has approved a $500-million project for an integrated casino
resort in the central island of Cebu, the first mega-casino
outside the capital of Manila, the gaming chief said on Tuesday.
The Southeast Asian nation, whose gaming sector grew in
popularity and revenues as China's crackdown on corruption
scared wealthy Chinese players away from Macau, aims to spread
gaming projects to the provinces, while the three existing
integrated casino resorts ramp up operations in the capital.
"Cebu is the second largest metropolis in our country,"
Andrea Domingo, chairman of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming
Corp (Pagcor), told a briefing. "There are cities there near the
airport where the local governments welcome casinos."
A Filipino-owned company will put up a $500-million casino
complex in Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu, while a Hong Kong-based firm
is applying for a license to invest $300 million in a casino
venture on the adjacent island of Mandaue, Domingo said.
In 2015, Sino-American Gaming Investment Group, controlled
by Denver-based consultant RiskWise Group, and Macau Resources
Group told Reuters they had proposed large scale resorts - one
on the tourist haven of Cebu and the other on the island of
Napayawan, near a proposed airport.
The gaming regulator will refrain from issuing new gaming
licenses in the capital, Manila, in the next five years,
following requests by integrated casino resort operators.
"We listened to the people who were here, who took a risk
when there was no one else here," Domingo said.
The Philippine affiliate of Japan's Universal Entertainment
Corp opened its $2.4-billion casino project in
December, becoming the third player in the Entertainment City,
the Philippines' answer to gaming hubs in Las Vegas, Macau and
The Philippines, which has one of Asia's most freewheeling
gaming industries, targets gross gaming revenue of 155 billion
to 160 billion pesos ($3.1 billion to $3.2 billion) this year,
up 4 percent to 7 percent from last year, Pagcor data showed.
Growth will be driven by friendlier ties with neighbouring
countries and confidence in the Philippine investment climate,
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte last year set aside
territorial hostility and partnered with China, pivoting away
from traditional ally the United States.
($1=50.0970 Philippine pesos)
(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Clarence