MANILA Feb 18 The Philippines missed its gaming
revenue estimate by 12 percent in 2013 as it took a hit from
lower-than-expected tourist arrivals from mainland China and
Hong Kong due to a territorial conflict in the South China Sea
and a deadly hostage-taking in 2010.
The Southeast Asian country, which hopes to overtake Las
Vegas' gaming revenue in six years, had gross revenue last year
of $2.2 billion, Cristino Naguiat, chairman and chief executive
of the state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation
(PAGCOR), said in a business conference.
That was 10 percent above 2012 revenue, but below his
earlier estimate of $2.5 billion gaming industry revenue last
The country's gaming revenue growth last year would have
been double if political issues did not sour tourist interest
from China and Hong Kong, said Enrique Razon, chairman and
president of Bloomberry Resorts Corporation, the
first of four casino-resorts to open at the 120-hectare
Entertainment City gaming and leisure complex along Manila Bay.
"If not for Hong Kong and China, probably growth would have
been 20 percent," Razon said, adding the impact of political
issues would likely remain this year and next year.
The families of eight Hong Kong tourists who were killed
during a bus hostage rescue in Manila in 2010 have demanded an
apology and compensation from the Philippine government, which
has ruled out an apology, leading to tensions with Hong Kong.
The Philippines is also locked in a territorial dispute with
China over shoals, rocks, reefs and isles in the South China Sea
believed to be rich with mineral and oil reserves and which is
an important trading route.
PAGCOR's Naguiat expects gaming revenues to grow by
double-digits this year with the opening of Belle Corp
and Melco Crown's City of Dreams' $1.3
billion casino resort project at Entertainment City complex.
Bloomberry is also set to open in October its $400 million
expansion featuring more VIP gaming sections and a mall, theater
and another hotel, with the extension having a total gross floor
area of 200,000 square metres.
Razon said Bloomberry is currently planning and defining the
market segment for the second phase of its $1.1 billion
casino-resort. It is also considering expanding overseas,
particularly in Japan, which is currently studying legislation
to legalise casino gambling. The market there is seen as
potentially the second-largest in the world.
(Reporting by Rosemarie Francisco; Editing by Matt Driskill)