Despite $81-M Bangladesh scandal, casinos created 90,000 jobs, earned P30B for govt: lawmaker
MANILA - The case of the $81 million stolen from Bangladesh that has shaken the Philippines won’t dampen the national government’s resolve to build up Manila as a global recreational and tourism hub, LPG-MA Rep. Arnel Ty, a member of the House games and amusements committee, said Sunday.
“We do not see the incident diminishing government’s determination to develop Entertainment City, which, as far as we’re concerned, is all about drawing in a large number of foreign visitors to spend money here, and in the process, spur more jobs for Filipinos and boost the National Treasury,” Ty said in a news release.
Two independent Chinese VIP gaming promoters from Macau who dabbled in Philippine casinos have been implicated in the laundering of the $81 million stolen from the Bangladesh central bank.
“We are counting on Entertainment City to help drive jobs growth and give the National Treasury a big shot in the arm in the years ahead, with the scheduled opening of the last two integrated resorts,” Ty said.
The state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) envisions Entertainment City in Paranaque City as a Las Vegas-type leisure hub with four integrated resorts featuring gaming-integrated hotels, together with convention facilities, entertainment shows, family-friendly theme parks, luxury retail shops, and fine dining.
“We expect Entertainment City’s four integrated resorts to directly employ up to 30,000 Filipinos, mostly graduates of Tourism, Hotel and Restaurant Management, and Foreign Languages, and indirectly support the creation of another 60,000 jobs from allied industries,” Ty said.
Pagcor’s four gaming licensees at Entertainment City -- Bloomberry Resorts Corp., Melco Crown (Philippines) Resorts Corp., Travellers International Hotel Group Inc., and Tiger Resorts Leisure and Entertainment Corp. -- are strictly required to locally hire at least 95 percent of their staff, according to the lawmaker.
“Based on the experience of Singapore’s two integrated resorts, for every direct job they create, another two support jobs from associated industries are also created,” Ty pointed out.
Bloomberry’s Solaire Resort and Casino and Melco’s City of Dreams Manila -- the first two integrated resorts to open in Entertainment City -- now directly employ 5,177 and 4,500 Filipinos respectively, according to regulatory filings with the Philippine Stock Exchange.
The country’s first integrated resort is actually located outside Entertainment City. Travellers’ Resorts World Manila in Pasay City opened in 2009 and directly employs 5,292 Filipinos.
The initial phases of Travellers’ Westside City Resorts World and Tiger’s Manila Bay Resorts, both in Entertainment City, are set to open later this year, with each expected to directly engage 5,000 to 8,000 employees, Ty said.
Thousands of construction workers are now rushing to complete both resorts.
The Philippines generated $2.75 billion, or P130 billion, in gross gaming revenues in 2015, up 17 percent from 2014, mainly on account of the operations of Solaire, Resorts World and City of Dreams, according to Pagcor.
Pagcor said its own gaming revenue increased 15.75 percent in 2015 while those of its licensees grew 18 percent.
The state-run gaming firm collects percentage license fees from integrated resorts -- from the gross gaming revenues generated by junket operations, high roller tables, non-high roller tables, slot machines, and electronic betting machines.
“We reckon that once the last two integrated resorts open, Pagcor will likely be raking in anywhere between P25 billion to P30 billion in annual gaming license fees from all five resorts, including Resorts World Manila, or between P5 billion to P6 billion per resort,” Ty said.
At least 50 percent of Pagcor’s annual earnings are remitted to the National Treasury as cash dividends, while the rest is used to support the President’s Social Fund and other public programs specifically mandated by law.
Ty said the amount does not include Pagcor’s income from its own gaming activities and other smaller licensees.
Pagcor also runs on its own 13 casinos, eight members-only slot machine VIP clubs, and three slot machine arcades throughout the country.