MANILA, May 4 (Reuters) - The Philippines’ Udenna Corp said on Thursday it will build a $300 million integrated casino-resort in central Philippines, the first such outside capital Manila.
The Southeast Asian nation’s gaming regulator is inviting investors to build casino-resorts outside the capital to accelerate growth in the gambling and tourism sectors despite a crackdown by China, a big source of high rollers, on wealthy punters.
Unlisted Udenna, a holding firm owned by one of the top campaign contributors of President Rodrigo Duterte, plans to start construction of the Lapu-Lapu Leisure Mactan in Cebu city in three months, the company said in a statement.
“We see this integrated development taking a major role in bringing the Philippines on par with the region’s premier destinations for leisure, gaming and meetings as well as for commercial and residential investments,” said Udenna President Dennis Uy.
Andrea Domingo, chairman of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), had said in March the regulator had approved a $500 million project for an integrated casino-resort in Cebu. Domingo did not name the project builder then.
Pagcor was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.
Udenna’s integrated casino-resort will be built on a 12-hectare (29.6-acre) beachfront property six kilometers (3.7 miles) from an international airport.
The casino, retail complex and hotels are scheduled to open as early as 2019. Udenna bagged on Wednesday a provisional license from Pagcor.
The Philippines, which has one of Asia’s most freewheeling gaming industries, targets gross gaming revenue of 155 billion Philippine pesos to 160 billion pesos ($3.1 billion to $3.2 billion) this year, up 4 percent to 7 percent from last year, government data showed.
Growth will be driven by warmer ties with China and increasing foreign visitors. (Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)