The Philippines is forecast to become the world’s fastest growing gaming industry giant when the $4-billion investment in the so-called Entertainment City in Parañaque City becomes fully operational.
At present, the Entertainment City’s revenue source shows a 50-50 balance between foreign and local visitors due to a growing middle class in the Philippines.
“I have described [the Philippine market]as a nice 50-50 balance between Filipinos and foreigners and very similar to Singapore. We’re basically now 50-50 in terms of VIP and mass revenue, mass tables and slots and mass driver of VIP business if foreigners and so actually, I see it, I actually take …of the fact that it is really characterizes its local market. I think it’s pretty amazing balance,” Thomas Arasi, president and CEO of Solaire Resort and Casino, told participants at the Global Gaming Expo Asia (G2E Asia) in Macau.
“It would not surprise me over time that VIP… starts pulling ahead because we have the ability to participate in the Asia-Pacific wide gaming market and the good news is the Philippines enjoys and doesn’t suffer from the law of big numbers. We actually enjoy the law of small numbers. If we can jump in and participate in increasing shares in the Asia-Pacific market, meaning foreign non-Filipino gaming wallet then that’s a very big difference for us. So I would say we respect that we are trying to stay… because it’s a large growing Asia-Pacific market for the integrated resort business,” Arasi said.
Arasi describes the gaming tax structure in the Philippines as “quite best in the world”.
“PAGCOR, the gaming regulator, does all of the things that all of the small regulators do .
They certainly have a commercial sense of what it takes to be successful in this business so
I’ll check that as something that is a very mutual thing in terms of doing their job and allowing us to do our job,” he said.
Arasi said the greatest asset that the Philippines can offer to the world is its people.
“The fact the you’ve got things that I call Filipino hospitality, if you look around Singapore, if you look around Korea and Japan, the Philippine’s number one export is its human capital and for whatever reason… it’s a culture that produces a tremendous number of people who are successful in the hospitality space,” Arasi said.
“Team members are relatively plentiful coming out of the Philippines so there aren’t labor shortages and in fact that’s a very nice balance for players and for team members and you know that’s not the case in all resort markets as we know,” he said.
“Now if you just pick up certain parts of Asia and drop it in next door for that certain kind of activity that will be a mess but we think there’s a good market up here,” he added.
For Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada’s Tiger Resort Leisure & Entertainment Inc, the last remaining integrated resort in Entertainment City Manila to be opened at the end of 2015.
“There was a lot of doubt before Solaire opened, that happened in the domestic … how to sustain another resort after that, another one. So we’re watching City of Dreams, we’re looking at organic growth versus capitalization and there are some infrastructure initiative that are under way things will certainly help grow the domestic number,” Matt Hurst, Executive Tiger Resort Vice-President for Casino Operations and Marketing.
“There’s something that comes through bringing people in the other provinces. There’s growth left in the domestic market. It’s not sustaining property after property. At the end of the day we have to open to international. We are interested in sustainable premium mass market from Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Korea, to raise tourism numbers, Japan, the parent company is very interested to see what happens in Japan. But long term growth for Entertainment City is for sustainable growth in the Asia-Pacific area. Gaming has become a lot more mainstream and acceptable as a past time for Asian people compared to the early 2000s or the late 1990s. There’s a lot of potential growth,” Hurst said.