Cebu, Philippines Casino Project To Get $43M Cash Advance

Posted on: October 21, 2019, 12:35h. 

Last updated on: October 21, 2019, 10:35h.

A planned Cebu, Philippines private resort casino is getting a $43 million loan for the PH Resorts property, as the country weighs the future of government-owned gaming venues.

Dennis Uy is leading the initiative to open a Mactan, Philippines private resort casino. He is a local wealthy businessman. (Image: BusinessMirror)

Tentatively called Emerald Bay Resort and Casino, the property is scheduled to open in 2022 on a 33-acre parcel in Mactan Province.

The financial commitment is coming from Emerald Development, which is owned by Udenna. That is the parent company of PH Resorts and is involved in diverse business sectors, such as oil and gas, shipping, real estate, and food.

This advance represents a significant step in realizing the completion of the Emerald Bay Resort and Casino,” PH Resorts CEO Raymundo Martin Escalona said in a recent statement to the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Earlier, Udenna sold a 25 percent stake in Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, raising around $80 million to help finance the development of the project.

The Cebu property is to be the first integrated resort in the Philippines outside of Entertainment City in the Manila region, Escalona said. It will target guests from South Korea, China, and those from the Philippines, according to Inside Asian Gaming.

In its first phase, the casino will have an 81,644 square-foot gaming floor. It will feature 1,186 slot machines, 146 tables, an 838-room hotel, many stores, a convention center and 18 restaurants.

The second phase of construction will include an expanded gaming floor. The property will also get a 1,300-room luxury hotel.

In 2017, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) gave provisional approval for Emerald Bay. Construction started later that year.

Also, PH Resorts is trying to open another resort casino. That one is to be in the province of Pampanga.

Dennis Uy Leads Company

Among the key leaders of Udenna is Dennis Uy, a wealthy local businessman. He was named 22nd on the Forbes Philippines’ 50 Richest list. His net worth is about $660 million.

Uy has been described as a close friend of controversial Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte. Uy was also a major campaign contributor to Duterte. But Uy denied getting favoritism from Duterte, saying the casino license was awarded on merit.

Philippines Could Privatize Casinos

As of last month, the Philippines was home to four integrated casino resorts in Manila, as well as 11 state-owned and operated Casino Filipino venues. PAGCOR owns the Casino Filipino locations, as well as 33 smaller satellite betting shops scattered across the Southeast Asian nation.

In 2017, PAGCOR considered selling its casinos and satellite venues at the urging of Duterte. He had stated then that PAGCOR being both an operator and regulator made the agency prone to corruption.

But the national leader changed his mind. He called off the privatization initiative, given the value of the casinos to the government.

Recently, however, there are some new calls to sell the casinos. Philippines Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon requested that the Department of Finance (DOF) and PAGCOR look at selling the venues.

That way, the government can avoid imposing higher taxes on cigarette and liquor sales, Drilon suggested.

DOF Secretary Carlos Dominguez estimates privatizing the state-run casinos could generate PHP220 billion ($4.22 billion) in annual revenue for the government. Along with selling “small-town lottery” (STL) operations, Dominguez said it would be reasonable to assume the Philippines could rake in PHP300 billion ($5.76 billion) a year from the sell-off.