Philippines mega-casino set to open next month

A $4 billion mega-casino complex is set to open in the Philippines in mid-March when the first of four franchise-holders starts commercial operations, the parent firm said in a disclosure released on Wednesday.

The $1.2 billion Solaire Manila Resorts is one of four gaming operations licenced at Manila's bayside Entertainment City, a government project designed to compete with Macau, Las Vegas and Singapore as a gaming hub.

Boasting 500 hotel rooms set in modern resorts, Solaire will open its doors on March 16, parent company Bloomberry Resorts Corp. said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange.

"(We) confirm that (Bloomberry's) Solaire Manila Resorts and Casino has collected the top former operating officers of world-renowned casinos in Las Vegas and other parts of the world," it said in a letter to the exchange.

The February 5 letter, released by the bourse on Wednesday, said these personnel include around 400 Filipinos who have worked in gaming and hotels across the world.

Solaire plans to add 300 more hotel rooms after two years, said Bloomberry, a listed firm controlled by Philippine port tycoon Enrique Razon.

Two other franchise-holders -- one involving Australian billionaire James Packer and Macau gaming tycoon Lawrence Ho as shareholders and another with Japanese gambling tycoon Kazuo Okada -- are also building at the complex.

The 100-hectare (247-acre) Entertainment City, a project of the state-owned gaming regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., required each of the franchise-holders to invest at least $1 billion.

A unit of global leisure and entertainment group Genting Hong Kong Ltd. is a key investor in the fourth franchise.

Bloomberry said it could not confirm a local news report that the entire Entertainment City project would generate annual revenues of at least $10 billion by 2017, putting it among the world's gaming big leagues.

Spokesmen for the regulator could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, while Solaire has not responded to AFP's requests for an interview.

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