Lady Luck smiles on EKR, Bloomberry

EYES WIDE OPEN - Iris Gonzales - The Philippine Star

If the Asian gaming industry were a game of poker, ports and casino tycoon Enrique K. Razon or EKR has the Royal Flush, as he beat other gaming tycoons in Asia at the recently concluded Inside Asian Gaming (IAG) Academy Awards.

Razon won the Hall of Honor Outstanding CEO Award, beating other nominees including Daesik Han of Hann Philippines; Lawrence Ho of Melco Resorts & Entertainment; Francis Lui of Galaxy Entertainment Group and Dr. Wilfred Wong of Sands China Limited.

According to IAG, the Outstanding CEO is given to an industry CEO – or the highest management officer in an industry organization – in recognition of his innovation, creativity, leadership and original thinking.

Those given the Hall of Honor accolades are individuals from the Asia-Pacific integrated resort industry who have made or are making important industry contributions, IAG also said.

The Hall of Honor Outstanding CEO award was a nod to the visionary leadership of Razon, who has been steering Solaire’s course in the industry, consistently leading the organization toward growth and innovation.

It’s a well-deserved award because Razon has led the dramatic growth of his casino business in a span of just ten years.

Solaire in Parañaque was the first to open at the sprawling Entertainment City in 2013; a second Solaire will open in Quezon City soon and possibly a third one in Cavite.

While he successfully grew his ports company, he was new to the casino industry when he first rolled the dice and joined the business a decade ago.

Indeed, it was so much more than luck that brought EKR his and Bloomberry’s awards. It was his agile leadership and acute business skills in handling crises that enabled him to successfully lead Bloomberry, especially during the pandemic years when gaming floors were shut down.

Best Gaming Floor

Aside from Outstanding CEO, Bloomberry also received the Best Gaming Floor accolade, a testament to the resort’s “vibrant gaming environment that offers a unique blend of excitement and sophistication to both seasoned and novice players alike.”

“These accolades are an affirmation of Solaire’s relentless pursuit of excellence and a testament to its commitment to delivering unparalleled experiences to its customers,” Bloomberry said.

The highlight of the evening was when Solaire Resort was conferred with the Best Regional Asia-Pacific IR award, a recognition that highlights the resort’s commitment to providing an integrated and holistic entertainment experience to guests from all over the world.

“This award is a validation of the exceptional quality of facilities and services that Solaire has to offer, setting a benchmark in the region for luxury, entertainment and hospitality,” Bloomberry also said.

Commenting on the wins, Bloomberry president & COO Thomas Arasi said, “These accolades reflect the collective efforts of the passionate and dedicated team at Solaire. Our unwavering commitment to excellence and our continuous pursuit to redefine luxury and entertainment in the region have brought us here.”

Hall of Honor

The IAG Academy IR Awards ceremony was held last Sept. 13 at The Ballroom at Hilton Manila in Newport World Resorts in Pasay. It’s the first time it was held again since 2021, due to Macau pandemic restrictions in 2022, and it comprised 20 award categories separated into four divisions: resort, gaming, corporate and industry. The special Hall of Honor ceremony followed after the awards, honoring individuals in the Asia-Pacific Integrated Resort industry who have made or are making important industry contributions.

IAC Academy

Inside Asian Gaming is Asia’s leading B2B digital and print media brand for the gaming, resort and entertainment industry. It has the highest website traffic, social media following, digital newsletter distribution and print magazine distribution of any such brand.

It was in 2021 when it launched the IAG Academy, then known as the Integrated Resorts Academy Asia (IRAA) as its educational arm. It was rebranded as the IAG Academy in July 2023.

“In the months and years ahead, the IAG Academy will be delivering educational services for the APAC Integrated Resort industry both through its website with online learning and by producing live in-person educational and thought leadership events, with the goal of advancing professionalism within the industry. The IAG Academy will also play a role in recognizing the contributions of those people who make up our industry,” IAG said.

The gambling business

The casino resorts business, it seems, is alive and booming again not just in the Philippines but in the Asia-Pacific region. Sprawling and glittering gaming floors are again filled to the brim, especially the posh exclusive rooms for high-rollers.

Other tycoons including Manny Villar will also put up not one but two casinos in his much touted planned Villar City in the south.

We can only hope that with the booming gaming business in the Philippines, we wouldn’t see an increase in gambling addiction, especially among local players. Casino operators say they always remind rollers to practice responsible gambling.

But is there such a thing? Only gamblers know for sure.

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Email: [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @eyesgonzales. Column archives at EyesWideOpen on FB.

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