Melco to Boost Budget for Manila Casino, to Add Gaming Ta

Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. said it will boost its budget for its Manila casino in the Philippines by 10 percent to $680 million after the company received government approval to add more gaming tables.

The country’s casino regulator gave the company, a venture between Macau gambling tycoon Lawrence Ho and Australian billionaire James Packer, approval to increase gaming tables to 365 from 242, while slot machines and electronic table games to 1,680 each from original 1,450 combined, the company’s Philippines unit said today in a filing to the country’s stock exchange.

Melco Crown (Philippines) Resorts Corp., which is building the casino called City of Dreams with local billionaire Henry Sy’s Belle Corp., is raising the budget for the project as construction and other costs rose, it said in the same filing today.

Melco Crown is expanding overseas as Ho sees constraints on development at home in Macau. The Hong Kong-based company is building one of the four casino resorts in Manila, capital of the southeast Asian nation, with its $1 billion resort that is scheduled to open in the middle of next year. The Philippines is among a list of Asian nations including Sri Lanka and Vietnam seeking to emulate the success of Singapore and Macau.

Melco Crown’s casino will be the second to open in Pagcor City, the gaming district being built along Manila Bay as part of the Philippine government’s push to cut a bigger share of Asia’s casino revenue. The $1.2 billion Solaire Manila, the district’s first casino and owned by Philippine port magnate Enrique Razon Jr., opened in March.

Macau Revenue

Pagcor City’s remaining two casino licenses are held by Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada and a venture of Genting Hong Kong Ltd. and Philippine billionaire Andrew Tan. Their resorts are scheduled to open between 2015 and 2017.

Melco Crown currently gets all its revenue from Macau, where the government has limited the number of gaming tables and hands out land permits at intervals to prevent the industry growing too fast.

Macau’s casino revenue reached $38 billion last year, six times larger than that of the Las Vegas Strip. Lawrence Ho, son of Macau gambling tycoon Stanley Ho, said last month Macau’s casino revenue will grow at least 10 percent next year as the global economy improves.