James Packer, an Australian billionaire, and Lawrence Ho, the son of Macau gambling mogul Stanley Ho, may be interested in investing as much as $1 billion in Manila casino project. The news comes from the Philippine gambling regulator.
Cristino Naguiat, Chairman of the state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PACGOR), told online gambling news in Philippines: “Discussions are still ongoing. I think they’re serious.” Currently PACGOR is in talks with Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd., Packer and Ho’s joint casino venture, over the Manila investment.
Philippine gambling laws made it possible to award four licenses back in 2008 and 2009 to allow operation of casinos in an entertainment and gambling complex, which was planned for Manila. The Philippine government is envious of neighboring Singapore and Macau, where gambling is accelerating at light speed, and is now seeking partners to boost Manila project construction.
Leo Venezuela, a Manila-based analyst at CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, commented: “The government’s strategy of bringing in key investors is good as it creates a critical mass. You can’t just have one or two players and call it a gaming center. You have to have a handful to provide variety and a more dynamic industry.”
Currently, each Philippine licensee agreed to come up with $1 billion in investments over five years. Three of the four that received licenses in 2008 to 2009 were a venture between Genting Malaysia Bhd and Alliance Global Group Inc., Philippine property developer Belle Corp., and Philippine ports mogul’s, Enrique Razon, Bloombury Investments Holding Inc. The name the fourth licensee remained a mystery, the only known fact is that it’s a Japanese company.