In order to ensure that world-class properties are in provincial towns and cities, the Philippines is open to locations outside the capital of Manila receiving gambling licenses at a cost of approximately US$300 million, Cristino Naguiat, chairman of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), said.

Naguiat stated in an interview, that if the people in the area want it and if it can provide a boost to the economy, the agency is open to giving out a casino license as long as “an investment commitment is made,” according to Bloomberg.

In order to both capitalize on the decline and compete with Macau and Singapore casinos, PACGOR has already allowed four integrated resort projects to be built in Asia’s Las Vegas-like gaming and entertainment complex known as Entertainment City or Bagong Nayong Pilipino – Entertainment City, with a US$1 billion minimum investment each. The country’s biggest property in the 120-hectare seaside entertainment complex will be constructed by Japanese tycoon Kazuo Okada, spending as much as US$2 billion. It is likely that once incumbent leader Benigno Aquino’s six-year term ends in June, the minimum investment will be implemented, said Naguiat.

The Philippine government’s encouragement of foreign gambling establishments to set up shop in the country hasn’t exactly worked out the way it planned. On Monday, in what was the sharpest intraday loss in over a week, shares of Bloomberry fell as much as 3.4%. Following suit, City of Dreams Manila operator, Melco Crown Philippines Resorts Corp, had its largest intraday decline since January 26 and sank 5.7%. Meanwhile, a loss of 1.8% was experienced by the benchmark Philippines Stock Exchange Index.

Thirteen casinos in the Philippines are also run by PAGCOR, 10 of which are located outside of Manila. The gaming regulator said by 2025, when all four gambling projects are running, this year’s estimated 135 billion pesos (US$2.83 billion) in Philippine gaming revenue is expected to more than double. The first to open in the hub was Philippine billionaire Enrique Razon’s Bloomberry Resorts Corp, followed by Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd.’s project which opened a year ago. In December, Okada’s casino is scheduled to start operations, while Philippine billionaire Andrew Tan and Malaysian billionaire Lim Kok Thay venture, Westside City Resorts, may open by 2020, according to Naguiat.

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