PH Resorts betting on sustained gaming demand as Mactan casino complex opens in 2022

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 6) — PH Resorts Group is relying on sustained appetite for casino and gaming as it looks to raise as much as ₱1.125 billion for its integrated resort in Mactan, Cebu.

The gaming firm owned by businessman Dennis Uy briefed investors on Tuesday days ahead of its follow-on offering of up to 450 million common shares at the Philippine Stock Exchange. It is hoping to woo market players to cash in on future revenues of the Emerald Bay integrated resort and casino located minutes away from the Mactan Cebu International Airport.

The shares will be priced next week and will range between ₱1 and ₱2.50 apiece. PH Resorts stocks are currently priced at ₱3 each as of Tuesday’s trading.

Investors must subscribe at least 10,000 common shares to participate in the offer.

Raymundo Martin Escalona, president and chief executive officer of PH Resorts Group, said the Philippine gaming industry remains “robust,” having grown by 20 percent from 2010 to 2019. However, gross gaming revenues are seen to slow this year due to “access restrictions” amid the COVID-19 pandemic as gaming establishments are closed under strict community quarantine rules.

Escalona said growth may recover to 4.2 percent in 2021 to match last year’s level, coming from a soft 1.7 percent increase this year. By 2022 – or the year when Emerald Bay is set to open – revenues are seen to rise by a record 5.1 percent.

The Philippines is also seen as a viable gaming destination due to lower dealer labor costs and competitive gaming tax rates compared to other Southeast Asian destinations, with Escalona also pointing out that Filipino hospitality is also a plus.

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Jose Angel Sueiro, chief operating officer of PH Resorts Group, added that the Mactan project is on time and on budget for a soft opening in December 2021. However, full opening of the phase one of the project was pushed back to the second quarter of 2022, he added.

Sueiro said a COVID-19 vaccine is likely ready by then, adding that the group does not expect any “significant” change in the behavior of casino players once gaming tables are reopened.

He also said that the 2022 opening gives enough time for the company to reconfigure the floor plan if there is still a need for social distancing, such as the spaces between slot machines, as well as additional health and safety standards.

The 12.5-hectare Mactan property that will feature five-star hotel facilities mainly targets Filipino players, but it is also “well-positioned” to cater to foreign tourists and even junket gamers and VIPs, he added.

The integrated resort will have 4,514 square meters of gaming floor area under its first phase, with 270 hotel bays and 122 tables and a 300-meter beach strip view.

Apart from the stock market, the group’s chief financial officer Lara Lorenzana added that PH Resorts will also secure debt to sustain Emerald Bay, which will be capped at 70 percent of total capital.

Bulk of future revenues will be derived from gaming, while a tenth will be drawn from non-gaming activities.

Meanwhile, Uy’s plan to build a similar casino complex in Clark, Pampanga remains on the table, the listed firm said.

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