MANILA, Philippines --- Hello high-rollers!
And come they did in droves to the rolling of the first dice and opening yesterday of the US$1.2-billion Solaire Resort & Casino, the first of four casino resorts to open on a 100-hectare complex facing Manila Bay.
With President Benigno S. Aquino III as guest of honor, Solaire’s opening is seen as a signal of the Philippines’ inclusion in the list of biggest gambling centers in the world, next to Macau, Singapore, and Las Vegas.
The President himself acknowledges Solaire’s opening as a big economy booster as well as to tourism with more than 10 million tourists expected to come in by 2016.
“It seems that by 2016, we will need an estimated 37,000 more hotel rooms in tourism hotspots,” President Aquino said.
President Aquino thanked Solaire for employing more than 4,000 Filipinos, 500 of them former overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who have decided to go back to the country to work for the new resort and casino facility.
“I can assure you now that these workers will definitely exhibit the creativity, the initiative, and the loyalty that can turn your venture into a surefire success,” Aquino said, noting that it will create a multiplier effect and create additional indirect jobs for Filipinos, particularly in the services sector.
“What we have here in Solaire is an entertainment hub that can be enjoyed by the whole family,” he said.
With Solaire’s opening, the country’s gambling revenue of $1.9 billion is expected to increase to $6 billion within five years, this according to Michael French, chief operating officer of the Solaire Resort and Casino.
Solaire boasts of 500 hotel rooms, 1,200 slot machines, and 295 gaming tables. There are private gaming rooms that have a view of Manila Bay for those who like to raise the stakes. The resort also has eight restaurants, a spa, a night club, and will have a 1,800-seat Broadway-type theater, French said.
Solaire will offer commissions and allowances higher than the maximum 1.35 percent junkets get in Macau as well as lower taxes, cheaper labor costs are expected to mean higher profit margins for casino operators in Manila. (With reports from Madel S. Namit and Jean Fernando)