Philippines aiming to strike gambling gold

The Philippines is aiming to become Asia’s next big gambling hub with casino and entertainment resorts built in key tourist spots across the country, the nation’s gaming regulator told news agency on Tuesday.

An “Entertainment City” in Manila to rival boom towns Macau and Singapore is at the heart of the plan and will hopefully be finished by 2014, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) chairman Cristino Naguiat said.

“The casino industry here in the Philippines has a very huge potential in terms of revenues,” Naguiat, who took over as chairman a month ago, said in an interview.

“We are way behind Macau and Singapore in terms of the casino industry… (but) we would like to be positionerts in other parts of the Philippines, including picturesque Palawan island and Cebu, the nation’s second biggest city.

He said PAGCOR was open to hearing from foreign players interested in building entertainment resorts around the Philippines.

“We would like to receive their proposals with regards to this,” he said.

But Naguiat emphasised only proposals that incorporated other entertainment aspects aside from gambling, such as amusement centres and museums, would be considered.

“It has to be an integrated resort, not just a casino and a hotel,” he said.