Australian gaming magnate to invest in RP casino

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 16 2008 06:32 PM | Updated as of Jun 17 2008 02:32 AM

Agence France-Presse

Australian gaming and media tycoon James Packer is expected to sign a 1.5 billion dollar deal to build a hotel and casino resort in the Philippines, an official said Monday.

Dodie King, spokesman for the government-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) said he expected a deal will be signed with Packer "within the next few weeks."

Packer's resort will form part of a 20 billion dollar project which PAGCOR hopes will turn 120 hectares (297 acres) of reclaimed land on Manila Bay into one of Asia's biggest gaming destinations on par with Macau.

PAGCOR, which regulates and issues gaming licenses in the Philippines, unveiled the multi-billion dollar project in April and has attracted interest from around the world.

King confirmed media reports that the Packer deal was being negotiated through Bloomsbury Investments, which has already paid a deposit of 100 million dollars toward a 1,700-room resort and convention complex.

"I cannot say anything at this stage as talks are continuing," King told AFP.

"But we do expect that a deal will be finalized within the next few weeks."

Four other companies have reportedly expressed interest in the project: Japan's Aruze Corp, Genting Berhad Group from Malaysia and Star Cruises, and SM Investments Corp of the Philippines.

So far only Genting has been granted a licence to operate a casino.

It is expected that companies investing in the project will spend up to three billion dollars each building hotels, casinos, entertainment complexes and a golf course.