Packer & Ho Looking to Invest $1 Billion in Manila Casino

Posted on September 7th, 2011

Australian billionaire James Packer, son of the late Kerry Packer (media tycoon and high roller) and Lawrence Ho, son of Macau gambling taipan Stanley Ho, are looking at investing at least $1 billion in a Manila casino.

Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. (MPEL), Packer and Ho’s casino joint venture is analysing the move.
The Philippines gave out four licenses in 2008 and 2009 to operate casinos in a gambling and entertainment mega-complex that the government is planning to build in Manila. The Philippines wants a piece of the tax revenue that is being generated by gamblng enclaves Macau and now Singapore.  Gambling revenue in Macau was four times that of the Las Vegas Strip in 2010 and has ballooned almost 50% this year to  around US$20 billion.
Each licensee agreed to spend at least $1 billion over a five year cycle. Genting Malaysia (who own Circus Casino) bid, as did Alliance Global Group Inc., Philippine property developer Belle Corp. (BEL), and Philippine ports guru Enrique Razon’s Bloombury Investments Holding Inc.
The fourth is rumoured to be a Japanese company.
Universal Entertainment Corp. who make pachinko pinball machines, started building its casino in June and wants to open by 2014
State-owned Philippine Amusement & Gaming, (Pagcor), regulates the casino and gambling market in the Philippines.
Investment in the casino industry should help the Philippines hit its target of increasing tourist numbers to the islands to 6 million by 2016. The Philippines has plenty of other stuff to pull in the tourists- a beautiful archipelego for beach holidays, diving and sailing for starters. And it’s also well positioned geographically to attract visitors from all over Asia and Australia.
Lawrence Ho’s Melco International and Packer’s Crown each own 33.5 percent of Nasdaq-listed Melco Crown. Ho is Melco Crown’s CEO and both are co-chairmen of the company that owns the City of Dreams and Altira casinos in Macau.
Gambling on Manila Bay
The first stage of Pagcor City will include a casino complex and theme park that will take 2 to 3 years to develop. It will take around 7 years to complete the project with much of the construction to be on land that needs to be reclaimed from Manila Bay, similar to the Cotai Strip in Macau.
Well, we’ve been to the Philippines and it’s a beautiful country. (Tip- if you like diving head to el Nido in Palawan). We’ll be the first to visit when this opens!

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