March 19 - The first of four new casino resorts opens in Manila's Entertainment City, as operators hope to lure in high-rollers with lower taxes and warm hospitality. Michaela Cabrera reports.
Move over Las Vegas. Step aside Macau. Manila is looking to unseat these famous players in the high-stakes casino business. Solaire is the first of four casino resorts planned for Entertainment City, a sprawling development in the Philippine capital that hopes to draw in 10 billion dollars in gaming revenues within four years. Casinos in the Philippines will charge less tax on winnings than Macau -and that, say the owners, will bring in the tourists, the junket operators, and the high-rollers. (SOUNDBITE) (English): MICHAEL FRENCH, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER AT SOLAIRE, SAYING: "So when we talked to Filipinos here, we said, 'What do you want?' And they said, 'We want a Las Vegas.' We said ,'Okay what does that mean?' And they said, 'We want to see beautiful cocktail waitresses, serving free drinks.' Okay. 'We want to see lots of entertainment, we want it to be flashy and fun. Big vibe going on.'" Another company betting big on Manila's future as the Vegas of the east is Melco Crown Entertainment, run by Lawrence Ho. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MELCO CROWNE CO-CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER LAWRENCE HO SAYING: "I think it says something that Manila is the first outside jurisdiction that Melco Crown is pursuing in Asia, so we think the time is right, and the market potential is excellent." Entertainment City is also expected to create tens of thousands of jobs - which could spell more good news for the Philippines - one of the region's fastest growing economies looking to extend its winning streak.