In a statement, Hong Kong’s Suncity Group Holdings confirmed it has acquired a majority stake in the Philippines’ Suntrust Home Developers, which plans to co-develop and then run and operate a five-star hotel and casino in Manila.
The deal marks the first step taken by the Hong Kong group to tap Manila’s gaming industry, which has grown significantly over the past decade, attracting foreign entrants and producing tax revenue, reports Reuters.
“Outside of Macau the most decent city for gaming is Manila because of the scale, three international brands, and facilities, airport. Quite convenient,” Andrew Lo, executive director at Suncity, told Reuters.
Alvin Chau, Suncity’s owner, has expanded the company from running a high roller table at Wynn Macau’s casino in 2007 to a large conglomerate of companies spanning from real estate to cars and thousands of employees.
Suntrust said it signed an agreement to develop and operate exclusively the main hotel casino portion of an integrated resort in the capital in a separate statement. The casino and a hotel with at least 400 beds, about 400 gaming tables and 1,200 slot machines would be run by Suntrust for both mass market and high rollers.
Suntrust will lease the casino-hotel site from developers of the large Westside City Resorts World project, including Genting Hong Kong Ltd (0678.HK), which will also include a shopping centre and apartments.
By the end of June, the Westside developers had spent $1.89 billion (96.5 billion Philippine pesos) on the project that will start operations before 2023.
In the first quarter, government data showed, gross gaming revenue in the Philippines increased 14 percent to 120.48 billion pesos ($2.36 billion).
According to government data, the industry includes 10 private casino companies operating 1,785 gaming tables and 10,799 electronic gaming machines. Pagcor also runs many casinos with a total of 477 tables and 9,751 gaming machines.
The purchase of Suncity’s Suntrust is subject to regulatory controls.