According to Reuters, Philippine gaming regulators have approved a project that will establish the nation’s first casino that is not located in the capital city of Manila. Even now, before any ground has been broke and any construction started, it is being labeled a mega-casino, which will boast much more than a few slot machines and table games. Conservative, preliminary estimates are saying that this project will end up costing more than $500 million when all is said and done.
While this is great news for Philippine gamblers and visitors alike, it also adds to a recent trend of Asian countries becoming increasingly accepting of gambling culture. Perhaps it is a sign of changing times, but more people are pointing towards Asian governments and their desire to increase annual revenue streams.
For those who are unfamiliar with the geography of the Philippines, we will give you a short lesson. Though the nation itself is quite large, it is actually made up of many islands of varying sizes. The main, large island is known as Luzon and is home to the capital city of Manila. Right now, those who wish to gamble in the Philippines have few options outside of the capital city. In fact, if you wish to gamble legally, you have no options outside of Manila.
Though there is a booming tourism industry on the main island and around Manila, Cebu is where many tourists go to take advantage of otherworldly beaches and the resorts that line them. As such, Cebu seems like the perfect place for a casino resort to be situated. Hoping to cash in on the millions and millions of dollars brought in by tourists, the gaming regulatory body of the Philippines saw Cebu as the best option.
Andrea Domingo, chairman of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., commented on the decision to situate the mega-casino on Cebu by saying, “Cebu is the second largest metropolis in our country. There are cities there near the airport where the local governments welcome casinos.”
While a Filipino company is set to fork over the $500 million it will take to establish the Cebu resort-casino, there is already talk of a $300 million site that will be built on the neighboring island of Mandaue. This second venture, if approved, will be overseen by a Hong-Kong-based company.
Now, and for the next 5 years, the gaming regulatory body of the Philippines will refrain from issuing new licenses to locations in Manila. This is going to be done in order to prepare for even more resort casinos to be built on or near Cebu. The gambling industry in the Philippines has been growing dramatically over the past few years, and is beginning to rival industries in places like Singapore and Macau. Unlike Japan, for example, the Philippines seems dead-set on expanding their casino industry at any cost. Being that President Duterte is seemingly fully behind this project, it is only a matter of time before ground is broken and construction begins. Naturally, this is a story we will continue to follow closely as it progresses.