MACAU, China: With $1-billion investment in four integrated resorts in Metro Manila, casino experts here consider the Philippines as the new center of the development of the gaming industry in Asia.
They, however, said the best revenue source are foreign tourists, not Filipinos themselves.
The casino experts added that the gaming center should be restricted to Metro Manila for the convenience of tourist-casino players. Hotels and casinos in Macau are only a short walk from each other.
Since the Entertainment City being developed by Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), the Solaire Casino in Parañaque City and the City of Dreams Manila are far apart, the experts said developers should find a way on how to connect these hotel resorts and casinos with convenience as primary consideration.
“The Philippines is the center, at the moment, of new developments and we consider Manila as growth center,” Marcus Prater, executive director of the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers, told a conference here at Global Gaming Expo Asia (G2E Asia) being held at the spacious Venetian Macau.
Prater said the Singapore gaming business is robust due to the influx of tourists. He added that the Lion City has continued to add theme parks and other new attractions, specially those that cater to children.
Macau, he added, is plainly a casino center, meaning people come to it to gamble.
But, as Asia’s gambling capital, Macau is now being challenged to add more attractions like what Singapore had done, Prater said.
Casinos, however, in South Korea and Vietnam are flat, with not much development going on. South Korea is encumbered by its “foreigners-only” policy. Vietnam is purely VIP destination.
The Philippines, meanwhile, attracts high-roller tourists and caters to the mass market.
Prater said the Philippines should add more infrastructures and develop theme parks and other family-oriented attractions.
He noted that Filipinos are excellent entertainers, helping attract foreign tourists in the same way that Las Vegas does.
In fact, Prater said, Las Vegas is the model of Macau.
For Nat Wong, president of Reed Exhibitions of Greater China, said the government should focus on foreign tourists as its major clientele. A country being able to entice foreign tourists is likely to attract local visitors as well, he added.
“The government must decide which dollar it wants to get, those of the locals or the tourists,” Wong told The Manila Times.
To drum up interest, he said, Manila should hold gaming exhibitions, or even expositions to promote to the world its casinos and resorts. Actually, casinos bring in only 5 percent of the total revenue that integrated resorts and luxurious hotels generate.
Integrated resort-type gaming is now the trend.
Gaming is continuously evolving, reinventing and upgrading itself, according to Wong. He said even cruises are delectable to tourists. Manila could be one of the most sought-after destinations.
“Hotels, casinos, restaurants and entertainment are a good respite after a long sail,” Wong added.
G2E Asia here has attracted 160 exhibitors and over 6,500 attendees, a big improvement from its maiden edition with 3,000 attendance eight years ago. G2E Asia has participants from over 70 countries, including the Philippines.
G2E Asia has attracted the creme de la creme of Asia’gaming elite to the three-day event. The Macau government wants a diversification of its casino-driven economy into non-gaming amenities such as restaurants and entertainment.
Wong said countries like the Philippines should follow the lead of Macau where a non-gaming executive board was created, composed of leading operators and developers of non-gaming attractions.