Philippines aims to strike gambling gold

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Aug 10 2010 03:58 PM | Updated as of Aug 11 2010 12:01 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines is aiming to become Asia's next big gambling hub with casino and entertainment resorts built in key tourist spots across the country, the nation's gaming regulator told AFP on Tuesday.

An "Entertainment City" in Manila to rival boom towns Macau and Singapore is at the heart of the plan and will hopefully be finished by 2014, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) chairman Cristino Naguiat said.

"The casino industry here in the Philippines has a very huge potential in terms of revenues," Naguiat, who took over as chairman a month ago, said in an interview with AFP.

"We are way behind Macau and Singapore in terms of the casino industry... (but) we would like to be positioned right at the top."

Naguiat said the government was looking to eventually build integrated casino and entertainment resorts in other parts of the Philippines, including picturesque Palawan island and Cebu, the nation's second biggest city.

He said PAGCOR was open to hearing from foreign players interested in building entertainment resorts around the Philippines.

"We would like to receive their proposals with regards to this," he said.

But Naguiat emphasized only proposals that incorporated other entertainment aspects aside from gambling, such as amusement centers and museums, would be considered.

"It has to be an integrated resort, not just a casino and a hotel," he said.