MANILA, Philippines — Philippines is set to become one of the biggest gambling centers in the world in competition with Singapore, Macau and Las Vegas for Asia’s high rollers. Solaire Resort & Casino, a $1 billion casino resort will finally be open to the public on Mar 16 at 3PM. Solaire will be one of the country’s biggest hotel-casino and the opening ceremonies will be attended by President Benigno Aquino III.
It has 500 hotel rooms, 1,200 slot machines and 295 gaming tables, including those in private rooms with a view of Manila Bay for high rollers. It has eight restaurants, a spa, a night club, and will have a 1,800-seat Broadway-type theater.
Michael French, chief operating officer of the Solaire Resort and Casino said that studies project that the country’s gambling revenue of $1.9 billion will rise to $6 billion in about five years. Same amount as what is generated by Singapore’s two casinos.
It is the first of four similar developments in the $4 billion Entertainment City being built on a 100-hectare (247-acre) property reclaimed from Manila Bay. The flagship of Bloomberry Resorts Corp. is majority owned by one of the Philippines’ wealthiest men, container ports operator Enrique Razon.
The Entertainment City development is potential employment and economic bonanza for the Philippines. The hotel-casino more or less 5000 employees. About half of the staff work for the casino, including 400 senior officers who have worked for years in casinos in Macau, Singapore and in cruise liners, French said,
The hotel-casino will offer an “East meets West” venue, combining “the glitz and grandeur and the sparkle of Las Vegas” and the “Macau experience” of VIP gambling.
French further said that the Philippines’ 15 percent tax on casino operations is the country’s main attraction, especially for junket operators who will earn a bigger margin when they bring in the high rollers from Southeast Asia and China compared to 40 percent in Macau.
“For those who are in the gaming business, which is what fuels Macau, this is a better financial deal for them,” he said.
Lorraine Koo, Solaire’s vice president for business development, said Solaire is “more inclined” toward international players and 61 of 100 VIP tables have been set aside for junket clients.
“The Philippines itself is a very attractive tourist destination. The only issue we might possibly have is we may not be perceived that way. All we need is one chance to be able to show our international players how great the Philippines is,” she said.
The government says casinos in the reclamation area will be part of a total entertainment package that will generate jobs and tourism revenues in line with President Aquino’s objective of 10 million tourists by 2016.