City of Dreams Targeting Expansion in Philippines Despite Country’s New Casino Ban

Posted on: April 23, 2019, 11:45h. 

Last updated on: October 9, 2020, 09:18h.

A major investment firm in the City of Dreams brand reveals that the casino group wants to expand in the Philippines with a new gaming property.

City of Dreams Manila casino PAGCOR
City of Dreams Manila says it’s looking for new locations to expand its gaming operations. (Image: Muhammad Cohen/Forbes)

Premium Leisure Corp (PLC), an investment holding company focused on the gaming industry in the Philippines, is a substantial partner in Melco Resorts’ City of Dreams Manila. During a meeting with shareholders this week, PLG executives disclosed expansion plans using the City of Dreams brand.

The expansion of City of Dreams is being studied by our partners as well as ourselves,” PLC Chairman Willy Ocier explained. His comments were reported by the Philippine Star. “We have not identified any location yet.”

PLC owns the land and buildings in which City of Dreams Manila sits. Melco Resorts, one of the six licensed casino operators in Macau, leases the integrated casino resort operations from the investment corporation.

Precarious News

City of Dreams Manila opened in February of 2015. The $1.3 billion complex was the second of three billion-dollar casino resorts to open in the Filipino capital’s Entertainment City. The $1.3 billion Solaire was first, and $2.4 billion Okada third.

The gaming industry is thriving in the Philippines. Casinos won $3.58 billion last year, a surge of nearly 23 percent on the prior year. They’re expected to win more than $4 billion this year.

The vast majority of the gross gaming revenue is generated at the Entertainment City casinos. That’s why it comes as little surprise that City of Dreams would want to expand its operations amid the boom. However, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has issued a five-year moratorium on approving new casinos.

Andrea Domingo, the chairwoman of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), has pleaded with the president to ease the prohibition to no avail.

One license that has been issued and remains active is for Resorts World, the casino brand owned by Malaysia’s Genting Group. The company’s Resorts World Manila is located east of Entertainment City’s main drag.

Westside City Resorts World will bring the brand to the area where the billion-dollar casinos are attracting high rollers.

Construction has recommenced after a delay in 2018. The company hopes to open the casino resort in 2020. It’s just one element of the 76-acre “leisure and entertainment township” that will feature residential housing, hotels, malls, museums, and theme parks. Billionaire real estate developer Andrew Tan is behind Westside City.

Stopping Development

Duterte’s ban on new gaming facilities will halt billions of dollars from being invested throughout the Philippines.

Last July, just hours after a ceremonial groundbreaking, the controversial president ordered that Landing International’s planned $1.5 billion casino resort named NayonLanding in Entertainment City be stopped. Duterte said the land-lease deal was “grossly disadvantageous to the government.”

In November, Duterte issued an order blocking Galaxy Entertainment from building a $500 million casino resort on the vacation island of Boracay. In that instance, the president said “the voice of the people is the voice of god,” and with residents supposedly opposed to a gambling venue, Duterte said “there will be no casino.”