In this photo taken 15 October 2007, Philippine tycoon Henry Sy attends the launch of an Ayala Land-run shopping mall in Manila along with and Fernando Zobel de Ayala (unseen), chairman of the board of property firm Ayala Land. Forbes Asia magazine named the Zobel de Ayala family as the wealthiest in the Philippines with... Read more »
Philippine tycoon Henry Sy’s Belle Corp. has begun construction on a 0 million casino on the shores of Manila Bay in the Entertainment City complex. A deal with Harrah’s Entertainment to operate the casino, once thought near completion, has now collapsed, so it’s back to the drawing board for Belle.
Despite the snag with the operator, Belle says the opening of the property is still on schedule.
“The target is still first quarter of 2012,” said Manuel A. Gana, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Belle.
Belle’s partner, Leisure and Resorts World Corp., is supposed to be the operator, but still needs more expertise to operate the casino in a complex that will eventually cost more than $1 billion. The 2012 opening will include 250 tables and 1,500 slot machines.
“We certainly would need help in running the operations of the casinos—how to manage cash and how to make sure there will be enough cash for people who want to play,” said Gana.
Leisure and Resorts World is a public company with expertise in VIP gaming operations, but not in actually operating a casino. The company also runs bingo and interactive games licensing at the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) in the northern Philippines.
Gana claimed that Belle and Leisure and Resorts World was negotiating with three operators to run the casino, without identifying any of the potential partners. It is not likely, however, that any major casino operators would be involved.
The ascension of new Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has meant tough times for the Philippines Gaming and Amusement Corp. (PAGCOR). Aquino appointed close friend Cristino L. Naguiat, Jr., as chairman of PAGCOR, to investigate corruption within the organization. There have been suggestions that PAGCOR will sell its casino assets and be limited to a regulatory role in the near future when Naguiat completes his investigation. This uncertainty should keep the major gaming companies away from the Philippines and any deal to operate casinos in Manila.