Razon eyes gaming opportunities in Asia

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Enrique K. Razon-ICTSI-Bloomberry
Enrique K. Razon -- BW FILE PHOTO

By Arra B. Francia, Reporter

PORTS and gaming tycoon Enrique K. Razon, Jr. is scouting for opportunities to expand his gaming business in Asia.

Mr. Razon, who chairs Bloomberry Resorts Corp., said his entry into other countries in the region would depend on existing legislations. Bloomberry is the operator of Solaire Resort and Casino, located in Entertainment City in the Philippine capital.

He said the company would consider expanding into the gaming industry in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region, as well as Japan.

“If they open up, Japan. There’s a law… When the implementing rules come out,” Mr. Razon told reporters at the sidelines of the ASEAN Business Investment Summit in Parañaque City on Monday.

In 2016, Japan passed a law legalizing casinos, paving the way for international casino operators to expand in the country. The government however has yet to iron out guidelines and regulations that would allow companies to officially start putting up integrated resorts and casinos.

Mr. Razon noted Bloomberry’s expansion in the Philippines would also depend on the regulatory environment.

As for the company’s Jeju Sun Hotel and Casino in South Korea, Mr. Razon said there are no more plans to sell the business, as operations have become positive.

“We are no longer selling it because operations have improved,” he said.

In 2016, Bloomberry’s Korean unit, Solaire Korea Co. Ltd., struck a deal to sell 96.23% of its stake in Jeju Sun to Golden & Luxury Co. Ltd. for around P4.7 billion. The deal however fell through as Mr. Razon noted the buyer lacked funding.

The listed casino operator reported Jeju Sun generated a positive EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation, and amortization) during the third quarter of 2017, the first time since Bloomberry acquired the company in 2015. Jeju Sun also delivered a 436% increase in gross gaming revenues to P151 million for the third quarter of 2017.

Aside from Solaire, Bloomberry also has a 1.5-hectare property inside Ayala Land, Inc.’s Vertis North estate in Quezon City. It also has a land bank covering 33.16 hectares in Muui and Silm Islands in Korea.

Bloomberry’s attributable profit increased 31% in the third quarter of 2017 to P1.86 billion, following a higher VIP hold rate as well as more mass market plays that boosted a 22% year-on-year growth in revenues to P9.59 billion.

This brought the listed firm’s nine-month earnings attributable to the parent to P5.96 billion, 271% up from the P1.6 billion realized in the same period a year ago.

Shares in Bloomberry lost 38 centavos or 3.49% to P10.50 each at the stock exchange on Monday.