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Villar mulls casino resort development

- Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) - October 8, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The family of Sen. Manuel Villar is open to the idea of venturing into casino resort development with the Philippines setting itself up to be a leading gaming and entertainment hub in Asia.

A clutch of casino resorts will soon rise on a reclaimed land along Manila Bay which the government hopes to turn into the country’s version of the Las Vegas strip to ride on the casino building boom across Asia.

 “There are no plans at the moment to go into that business but we’re open to it, anything that would boost our income and complement our business,” said Villar.

The Villar family, through property holding firm Vista Land & Lifescapes Inc., is engaged in the development of residential subdivisions, construction of condominium units and master-planned developments through five business units Brittany, Crown Asia, Camella Homes, Communities Philippines and Vista Residences.

The group also builds retail and BPO (business process outsourcing) commercial centers through Starmalls Inc.

Bokerage firm CLSA has forecast that Philippine gambling revenue would reach $3 billion by 2015 and that low tax rates and cheap construction costs should support a 23 percent return on invested capital.

A report last year by PricewaterhouseCoopers said the Asia-Pacific gambling market will become the world’s fastest growing casino market by 2015 with revenues seen growing more than two-fold to $79.3 biliion, overtaking the United States as the world’s biggest regional market.

Foreign investors including Macau’s Melco Crown Entertainment, Japanese pachinko tycoon Kazuo Okada’s Universal Entertainment and Malaysia’s Genting Bhd. are working separately with local partners in the Philippines to take advantage of the anticipated growth in Manila’s leisure and tourism sectors.

Bloomberry Resorts Corp., controlled by local ports magnate Enrique Razon Jr., is set to open a $1.2 billion casino-resort early next year and has appointed Global Gaming Asset Management, run by former senior Las Vegas Sands Corp. executives, to manage the casino.

Melco Crown, backed by the sons of Macau gambling tycoon Stanley Ho and the late Australian casino-and-media magnate Kerry Packer, is pursuing talks to enter the Philippine market by teaming up with Belle Corp., which is controlled by the family of retail tycoon Henry Sy.

BELLE CORP BLOOMBERRY RESORTS CORP CAMELLA HOMES CASINO COMMUNITIES PHILIPPINES AND VISTA RESIDENCES CROWN ASIA ENRIQUE RAZON JR. GENTING BHD GLOBAL GAMING ASSET MANAGEMENT HENRY SY
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