By Arra B. Francia, Senior Reporter
BLOOMBERRY Resorts Corp. is on track to break ground on its integrated resort and casino project in Quezon City in June, despite steps by the local government to impose entrance fees on visitors of gaming facilities in the area.
The listed owner and operator of Solaire Resort and Casino said it has completed the masterplan for the project called Solaire North, but has yet to finalize the total cost.
“We should be done by mid-April or May, so we can come out with the announcement (for the masterplan),” Bloomberry Chairman Enrique K. Razon, Jr. told reporters after the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting in Parañaque on Thursday.
“As soon as the site is clear, we’ll have the groundbreaking. Our target is June or July,” he said.
Mr. Razon noted that they have secured all necessary permits to proceed with the project, including the Letter of No Objection (LONO) from the Quezon City government.
This comes amid a proposed ordinance by the QC government which seeks to require the collection of entrance fees from gaming enterprises to minimize access, among others.
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), however, said that the local government unit (LGU) cannot issue such an ordinance, since it has the sole authority to regulate games of chance.
“That ordinance came after, but PAGCOR has something to say about that. Hindi na kami gigitna dun, basta kami tuloy tuloy na (We won’t involve ourselves in the issue. We are moving forward with the project)… But the clearance has been given by the LGU and PAGCOR,” Mr. Razon explained.
Solaire North will stand 40 storeys tall on a 1.5-hectare property inside Vertis North, Quezon City. The company is looking to capture the mass gaming population in Quezon City given its large population, as well as those from nearby provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga.
Meanwhile, Bloomberry said it will start construction on Solaire Cruise Center by the third quarter of the year, as it looks to take advantage of the booming tourism industry in the country.
“With the growth of tourism, we have more and more cruise ships, we have 10 or more coming here so timing is ripe to develop that,” Mr. Razon said, adding there are no leisure destinations in the South Harbor Manila where most cruise ships dock in the country.
The company will complete the first phase of Solaire Cruise Center by 2021, which will include the pier, retail outlets, food and beverage destinations, and immigration facilities.
Aside from its local expansion, Mr. Razon said they are also looking at bringing its casino operations to Japan, due to improvements in the country’s regulatory environment. He said they are scouting for locations as well as potential partners.
The company also owns and operates Jeju Sun Hotel and Casino in South Korea.
Bloomberry’s net income attributable to the parent grew 18% to P7.19 billion in 2018, driven by a 14% increase in consolidated net revenues to P38.22 billion.