Billionaire Manuel Villar is betting on the recovery of the gaming business as he plans to start developing a $1-billion integrated resort and casino in Las Pinas City next year.
Villar said in an interview with reporters he would convert Vista Mall Global South mall, which sits on a 80-hectare property, into a casino with hotels.
The group will initially develop nine hectares where the mall, which has 18,000 square meters of gross floor area, is located.
Villar said he was looking at the Las Vegas model where the casino would have other attractions like theme park, theatres, restaurants, retail, hotels, condotels and non-gaming components.
The group is now in talks with potential foreign partners for the venture, he said.
He said the planned casino would be adjacent to the international airport just like the four other integrated resort and casinos in the government-sponsored Entertainment City in Paranaque.
The casino industry was one of the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic following the closure of international borders and the implement of quarantine restrictions. With the easing mobility this year, the gaming industry began to slowly recover, but has yet to get close to pre-pandemic levels as China, the country’s second top source market for tourists, continued to implement strict border controls because of its zero-Covid policy.
Villar said that aside from the casino, he is also bullish on the real estate sector, as his listed property Vista Land & Lifecapes Inc. is set to launch 41 projects next year. This would be an all-time high for the company in terms of project launches.
“We have not done this before. We have not launched this scale,” Villar said.
He said nearly all Vista Land’s businesses including retail, office and property development were back to pre-pandemic levels.
Villar said that on his broadcast business under AllTV, the group was looking to enhance its reach by setting up digital signal nationwide to increase its viewership. This will be done by building its own antennas and other facilities, while leasing facilities from ABS-CBN Corp.
He said the group wanted to increase its reach before launching new programs.
AllTV occupies the Channel 2 analog free-to-air slot and the digital Channel 16, which were formerly owned by ABS-CBN. It is also available on SkyCable Channel 35, Cignal TV Channel 35, G-Sat Channel 32, Planet Cable Channel 2 and other cable affiliates nationwide.
The Villar Group has seven companies listed on the PSE, making Villar one of the richest men in the Philippines.