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Biz Buzz

Casino buzzer beater

/ 12:33 AM December 30, 2016

Touted as the largest among all the integrated casino hotel complexes in Pagcor Entertainment City, Okada Manila had a fancy opening affair last week, just a few days before Christmas.

Okay, the company didn’t really call it an opening (or even a “soft opening”), it instead labeled it a “preview.” And company officials were careful to call it such in all their official statements, lest they be accused of misleading the public.

The preview, of course, was a glitzy affair with local stars performing and a fireworks display in the evening, to boot.

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But after that … silence.

“It’s not open,” said one official from its next door rival, Solaire Resorts and Casino. He said they scoped out their new competitor on Christmas Eve —just three days after the preview—and there were no hotel rooms available, no gaming operations going on and no food and beverage outlets open.

What gives? Well, there is that issue of a P100-million penalty which Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. will impose on any Entertainment City casino operator if they fail to meet their opening date deadline. And in the case of Okada Manila, that deadline is at midnight of Dec. 31, 2016.

But then again, what’s P100 million to billionaire Kazuo Okada who is one of Japan’s wealthiest businessmen? And what’s that small penalty compared to the $2 billion that Okada’s firm is ponying up to build what is clearly an imposing and impressive structure?

“In gaming, people will always remember bad openings and are quick to forgive a delayed opening, just so the opening can be done correctly,” the Solaire official pointed out, adding a quote from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson: “You only open once.”

(And yes, Solaire did it right the first time around in 2013.)

But it seems the Okada Manila people will meet the deadline after all, and just barely. The company yesterday announced on its official Facebook page that casino operations will commence at exactly 7 p.m. of Friday, Dec. 30 … with over one day to spare before the Pagcor deadline. So the company’s P100-million bond will not be forfeited, apparently.

Talk about beating the yearend buzzer. —DAXIM L. LUCAS

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Offshore gaming space

The business process outsourcing (BPO) has been the biggest driver of the office property market in recent years.  Now, offshore gaming operators have joined the hunt for office space.

Property consulting firm Colliers Philippines noted a surge in inquiries from offshore gaming companies in the last quarter of 2016, each with a minimum requirement of 10,000 square meters. It estimated that over 80,000 square meters of office space had been gobbled up by offshore gaming in 2016, taking BPO space.

To recall, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) launched the Philippine Off-shore Gaming Operation (Pogo) licensing program late this year, initially setting 25 Pogo licenses but with a potential to increase to 50 in the next six months.

Offshore gaming is conducted via the internet using a network and software offered exclusively to offshore authorized players who have registered and established an online gaming account with the licensee.

Authorized players of offshore gaming must be foreigners based in another country aged 21 above.

Foreign nationals who are staying in the Philippines and Filipinos residing abroad are not allowed to take part in this online gaming activity.

Application and processing fees for offshore gaming licenses amount to $50,000 for e-casino and $40,000 for sports betting. Upon approval of the license, the applicant will pay $200,000 for an e-casino license and $150,000 for a sports betting license.

The demand for property space from Pogos is seen to continue in 2017, Colliers said, adding that as demand from offshore gaming companies increase, concrete government policies on Pagcor’s role will be key.

“Colliers recommends landlords to consider accommodating offshore gaming companies who are looking to expand immediately,” the firm said.

While the government is cracking down on online gaming, Pagcor is promoting offshore gaming, “to safeguard the welfare of the Filipinos at the same time meet the agency’s revenue targets to help fund the government’s nation-building programs.” —DORIS DUMLAO-ABADILLA

Pinoy movies on the sly

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines has embarked on a journey to become a leading world-class carrier by 2020, but it certainly plans to keep that local flair.

In fact, when it comes to entertainment, the carrier has been beefing up its selection of local movies and TV shows.

PAL has been upgrading its in-flight entertainment services, and years of feedback have revealed that a good deal of Pinoys want local shows when taking to the skies.

This appeal cuts across all types of customers.

PAL president Jaime Bautista told Biz Buzz that some of the carrier’s business class passengers—a few of them apparently high profile individuals—admit they were only able to watch Filipino dramas while flying PAL. Those who tear up easily need not worry. We’re certain the carrier’s cabin crew are ready to assist in any emergency, including providing timely tissue paper. —MIGUEL R. CAMUS

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TAGS: bpo, Business process outsourcing, casino, gambling, Gaming, Okada Manila, Pagcor, Pagcor Entertainment City, Philippine Airlines, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, Solaire Resorts and Casino
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