A MGM Resorts casino will unlikely be constructed in the Philippines after the company branded their gambling market as oversaturated.
The Philippines is desperately attempting to transform its land-based casino business into another gambling powerhouse alongside Las Vegas and Macau, but MGM Resorts wants no part in it.
Speaking at Global Gaming Expo Asia event, MGM Resorts International Senior Vice-President for Global Development, Ed Bowers, said the Philippines gambling market is “oversaturated” when he was asked why the international casino operator was not planning on opening a resort in the Philippines.
He added that MGM did not want to be a part of the intensifying competition for casinos in Manila’s Entertainment City.
“We looked at Philippines a couple of years ago, and we decided not to go there. I’d say probably partly to do with the market, certainly about the ability of the market to grow,” Mr Bowers said in an interview.
Mr Bowers is referring to the strip of land along Manila Bay which the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) attempted to turn into a casino hub in 2002, similar to Las Vegas where several brick and mortar casinos line the street.
There are just three casinos located along the PAGCOR’s reclaimed land including Melco’s City of Dreams Manila, Bloomberry Resort’s Solaire Resorts and Casino and the new Okada Manila casino. There is also a fourth casino, West Side City Resorts World, planned for 2020 by Malaysia’s Genting Group and Alliance Global Group, Inc.
Mr Bowers said MGM will not be joining the casino as the company evaluated the risks in association to laws, as well as market feasibility and size in the Philippines. Although risks are a huge part of operating a successful casino resort company on a global scale, Mr Bowers believes the Philippines is too big of a gamble.
“There’s a country risk element in doing business in the Philippines and it’s really high,” he said.
“My concern is that the Philippines is maybe getting a bit oversaturated because you already got operators and there’s another one building.”
Mr Bowers also said PACGOR’s questionable dual role as a casino operator and watchdog is another reason why MGM will not be joining Melco and the other casino resorts. He also noted the inadequate infrastructure in the country.
“And I don’t know whether that’s going to be too much because you need to bring people in. Whereas the local market has only a certain size,” he noted.
But Mr Bowers said the company was “not necessarily” ruling out the possibility of a casino in the Philippines for good.
“We didn’t really close our doors on too many things,” he said.
“Sure, obviously you got Solaire and many projects so it would really be interesting to see how they’re doing.”