At least four foreign groups are waiting in the wings to bid for the right to operate a casino at the Entertainment City along Roxas Blvd. as the government and the lower house start their probe into allegations bribes were paid in relation to the $2-billion integrated casino resort being developed by Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada.

Manila Rep. and chairman of the House Committee on Games and Amusements Amado Bagatsing said some four foreign groups have expressed interest to take part in the development of a world-class gaming complex in Manila, which the government wants to turn into the country’s version of the Las Vegas strip.

“There’s a long line waiting should Okada’s group lose its provisional license to operate a casino. More foreign players want to take part in the action,” Bagatsing said.

The Department of Justice was directed by the Office of the President to investigate the alleged $5-million bribe given by Okada’s Universal Entertainment to Rodolfo Soriano, a close associate of the former head of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

The payment was made via a shell company in Hong Kong and was part of $40 million in transfers made by Universal’s US affiliate Aruze that are now subject of various investigations by law enforcement and regulators in the US and Asia. It was made at a time when Universal was lobbying to win concessions for its casino from ex-President Arroyo’s administration.

The government last week said it would revoke Okada’s casino license if this was obtained through bribery.Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 Okada’s Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment is one of four groups issued a license to operate a casino in Pagcor’s Entertainment City. Its goal was to lure high-limit, VIP gamblers from China allegedly to compete head on with Wynn Macau.


Okada forges $2 B casino jv with Gokongwei, Andrew Tan By Mary Ann LL. Reyes, The Philippine Star Posted at 07/15/2012 9:52 AM | Updated as of 07/16/2012 7:34 AM

[PHOTO - bustling Pagcor’s Entertainment City along Roxas Blvd]

MANILA, Philippines - Tycoons John Gokongwei and Andrew Tan have forged an agreement with Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada for a $2-billion project that will integrate gaming, commercial and residential operations at the Pagcor Entertainment City along Roxas Blvd.

Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) chairman and CEO Cristino Naguiat Jr. told The STAR that Tan’s group will handle the land development aspect of Okada’s Tiger Resorts project, one of four groups granted a license by Pagcor to operate a casino in the Entertainment City.

Okada’s project is worth $2 billion, and Gokongwei and Tan’s entry will translate to the two local groups owning 60 percent of the venture, and Okada, 40 percent. The project will have a casino as well as a residential and retail component.

Naguiat said the Tiger Resorts project, covering 40 hectares of the 100-hectare Entertainment City, will start operations at the end of 2014.

It was earlier reported that Gokongwei’s property arm, Robinson Land Corp., has offered to run the gaming and retail operations of the Tiger Resorts project, the biggest among the four licensees, in Entertainment City.

The other licensees include Bloomberry of port operator Enrique Razon, Belle Corp. together with Melco, and Resorts World, also owned by Tan.

Earlier reports revealed that the Gokongwei Group beat several local businesses, notably the Lopez Group, that vied to be a partner of Okada. The Lopezes own media giant ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. and property developer Rockwell Land.

Okada, also known as the pachinko king of Japan, broke ground on his casino in Entertainment City on Jan. 26, promising more than 2,000 guest rooms in three hotels.

On his visit to Manila in May, Okada predicted that the center of gravity of the global gaming industry would shift from Las Vegas to Asia, with the Philippines playing a significant part in attracting patrons from around the world.

“My dream is to create the best casino in the world here in the Philippines,” he said. “This is why I’m focusing on Philippine gaming – to make it the best in the world and to beat Wynn Resorts,” he said.

Tan, through his listed investment holding firm Alliance Global Group Inc., is also involved in another Entertainment City project, the $1.1-billion, 31-hectare Resorts World Bayshore project of Travellers International Hotel Group, his partnership with Genting Hong Kong Ltd.

Travellers International runs the wildly successful Resorts World, beside Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City.

Gokongwei’s foray into casinos is the latest in a string of billion-dollar transactions involving investors in Entertainment City.

In May, ports mogul Enrique Razon Jr. raised P8.85 billion from the stock market to bankroll the 16-hectare Solaire Manila luxury casino and hotel-resort project of his gaming firm, Bloomberry Resorts and Hotels Inc.

Solaire Manila is expected to be the first to open among the projects of the four licensees, with start of operations expected by the first quarter of 2013.

A few weeks ago, a consortium led by retail king Henry Sy took in Macau casino giant Melco Crown Entertainment – owned by Australian billionaire James Packer and Lawrence Ho, son of Macau gaming tycoon Stanley Ho – as a partner in its $1-billion, 8-hectare project.

The Belle-Melco project is scheduled to start end of 2013, according to Naguiat.

Pagcor has required all licensees to put in a minimum $1-billion investment in each integrated resort (to be spent before the term of President Aquino ends in 2016), build a minimum of 250,000 square meters of floor area and complete 800 hotel rooms with an average room area, of 40 square meters.


SM in talks with Macau tycoons on casino project By Doris C. Dumlao Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:33 pm | Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

[PHOTO -Belle Grande taking shape in Aseana Business Park along Roxas Boulevard. PHOTO BY RICK ALBERTO]

MANILA, Philippines—The group of tycoon Henry Sy is in talks to bring in Melco Crown Entertainment, operator of Macau’s City of Dreams entertainment complex, aboard the $1-billion casino-hotel project of leisure estate and gaming unit Belle Corp.

SM Investments Corp. investor relations chief Cora Guidote and Belle vice chairman Willy Ocier confirmed on Wednesday a report in Australia that the group was in discussions with Lawrence Ho Yau Lung, son of casino mogul Stanley Ho Hung Sun, and Australian billionaire James Packer, who co-own Melco.

The discussions suggest a plan to expand the existing casino consortium beyond Belle and its original partner, Leisure and Resorts World Corp. (LR).

Shares of all existing parties involved in the project sizzled at the stock market on Wednesday on news of the prospective deal with the Macau tycoons. SMIC and Belle went up by 2.54 percent and 8.11 percent, respectively, to P728 and P5.20 per share.

Shares of LR, which Ocier said would remain part of the consortium even if new investors were to come in, surged by 20.94 percent to close at P7.97 per share.

In a text message, Ocier said Belle was in talks to bring in these prospective partners “to strengthen consortium” and come up with a “world-class” project.

Guidote said the discussions were about the casino project that Belle, which is majority-owned by the Sy family, would open sometime next year.

“They’re just in talks. Nothing has been finalized,” Guidote said.

Asked how much stake the group would be willing to give to Melco, Ocier said the parties were “still talking.”

Melco is an owner and developer of casino gaming and entertainment resort facilities in Macau. Its subsidiary, Melco Crown Gaming (Macau) Ltd., is one of only six companies granted concessions or sub-concessions to operate casinos in Macau. Its flagship project, City of Dreams, is an integrated urban entertainment resort with stylish nightclubs, 1,400 luxury guest rooms, chic dining, designer brand shopping, a contemporary casino and The House of Dancing Water.

A report in Australia said Ho and Packer were flying to Manila to visit the project site. The integrated tourism-gaming complex Belle Grande is being constructed on more than six hectares of land in a central area in the Aseana Business Park in Parañaque City. It will have a total gaming area of 1.8 hectares surrounded by food-and-beverage outlets and luxury retail stores.

Belle has deployed about $550 million for the development of the casino, hotel, condotel and theater complex while LR was supposed to contribute $200 million for casino fit-out and working capital. The integrated gaming resort complex, between Macapagal Avenue and Roxas Boulevard, will offer 19,626 square meters of gaming space. The first floor will be devoted to the mass market while 6,000 sqm will be reserved for VIP gamers. It will have 350 tables and 1,900 slot machines.

The facility will also include six hotel towers with a combined 1,000 rooms, including 88 luxury suites.

Belle was awaiting an additional P3-billion fund-raising by LR to build the hotel portfolio required by the government. LR was supposed to undertake a second round of financing to meet the front-loading of expenses arising from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.’s requirement that an 800-room hotel must be up and running before the casino itself can start operations.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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