The Philippine could soon outdo Singapore in gaming market, as improved ties with China promises more tourists and raise the prospects for his upcoming $2.4 billion(S$3.5 billion) casino, said Kazuo Okada, Chairman of Universal Entertainment Corp.
The Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s move to increase relations with China along with his efforts to fight drugs and crime will increase the number of Chinese visitors, the Japanese gaming tycoon said in Manila in an interview ahead of a public preview of his resort on Wednesday (21 Dec).
“The Philippine gaming market will become bigger than Singapore within years,” Okada predicted, “A lot of Chinese are coming into the Philippines, and that will improve more as improving bilateral relations between China and the Philippines increase tourism here.”
Bloomberg has reported the Philippines is competing with Macau and Singapore to become a gambling hub targeting Asia’s rising middle class, even as the abundance of high-stakes Chinese gamblers has been weakened by government acts on corruption and capital outflow.
Gaming competition in the Asia region is becoming more crowded, with Japan’s parliament passing a bill legalizing casinos on 15 Dec.
Okada, whose company is also the manufacturer of pachinko gaming machines, gave a note of caution about jumping into the world’s newest casino market in Japan.
“I am very much interested in investing in Japan also for a casino … but I feel that the rules would take a year to be fully-established, so we will consider it for one year,” said Okada.
The details of Japan’s casinos must still be processed to become an implementation bill before any casinos can be built, which gives reasons they won’t open their doors in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Okada said further, “I don’t have very high expectations when it comes to the gaming industry in Japan because economic growth has been very stable; another reason is that Japan is an aging society, so probably not a lot of people will be spending.”
So he is keeping his focus firmly on Okada Manila, which will be the Philippine capital’s largest casino resort.
The third to open in Entertainment City, the resort will have over 26,000 sqm of gaming space, on a 120 hectare site along the city’s bay that the government is developing into a casinos and leisure hub.
The Philstar reported, on 19 Dec, the Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment Inc of Kazuo Okada launched Okada Manila as the new property name of its world-class integrated resort with the Pagcor Entertainment City, targeted for opening within the year.
Mr Rommel Rodrigo, an analyst at Maybank ATR Kim Eng, said Philippine gross gaming revenue will probably come to US$3 billion (S$4.33 billion) this year and could reach US$3.6 billion (S$5.2 billion) in 2018, as new investors like Mr Okada and improving relations with China bring in more overseas gamers.
In comparison to Singapore, its gross gaming revenue from two casino resorts was US$4.8 billion (S$6.93 billion) in 2015, according to Bloomberg data.