November 25, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Why MGM Resorts isn’t keen on setting up shop in the Philippines

MACAU -- Integrated resort giant MGM Resorts International is not currently interested in setting up shop in the Philippines, as it sees the market slowly becoming saturated with the new casinos operating at Entertainment City.

MGM Resorts International Senior Vice-President for Global Development Ed Bowers told BusinessWorld that it has deferred looking into entering the Philippine market due to intensifying competition among casinos.

“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,” he said in a chance interview at the sidelines of the Global Gaming Expo Asia forum here.

“There’s a country risk element in doing business in the Philippines and it’s really high. My concern is that the Philippines is maybe getting a bit oversaturated because you already got operators and there’s another one building,” said Mr. Bowers.

The Philippines’ Entertainment City is envisioned as Asia’s Las Vegas-like entertainment complex. Three casinos are currently operating within the property owned by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), namely City of Dreams Manila by Melco Crown Philippines (Resorts) Corp., Solaire Resort & Casino by Bloomberry Corp. and Okada Manila by Tiger Resorts, Leisure & Entertainment, Inc.

Alliance Global Group, Inc. (AGI), meanwhile, continues to work together with Malaysia’s Genting Group on the blueprint of its integrated casino-resort in the Entertainment City. Its partnership, Travellers International Hotel Group, operates Resorts World Manila.

Mr. Bowers said MGM evaluates a country’s specific risks regarding regulation, market feasibility, and market size, in determining its business model.

“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.

Mr. Bowers also cited the PAGCOR, being both a casino operator and regulator, as a risk.

The lack of adequate infrastructure in the country has also been flagged as a risk.

The Nevada-based operator MGM Resorts International, which has multiple properties in the US and China, is currently focused on the Japanese market, according to Mr. Bowers.

Asked whether they have closed its door to the Philippines, Mr. Bowers said: “No, not necessarily. We didn’t really close our doors on too many things. Sure, obviously you got Solaire and many projects so it would really be interesting to see how they’re doing.”