Royce Hotel & Casino will boast the region’s biggest casino floor at a huge 27,000 square meters when complete in 2021.
Take a short three-minute drive west up Manuel A. Roxas Highway from Clark International Airport and it’s impossible to miss the massive steel structure looming up on the right that will eventually become the new Royce Hotel & Casino.
When complete in 2021, Royce’s Phase 2 expansion will boast a whopping 27,000 square meters of gaming floor – the biggest in Clark – with space for 150 gaming tables and 1,500 slot machines.
Owner Rodolfo Piñeda, President of Eight Integrated Development Corporation and father of Pampanga Governor Dennis Piñeda, is also developing associated land in nearby Lubao which will include a 36-hole golf course and a theme park described as similar to Enchanted Kingdom in Laguna or a small-scale Disneyland.
It’s a far cry from the 12 tables and 170 slot machines Piñeda inherited when he purchased Royce – formerly known as Oxford Casino – in 2014. The property’s initial expansion to its current 54 gaming tables, four poker tables and 304 slot machines followed the appointment of William L. Avendaño as General Manager – Casino in 2016, with Avendaño telling IAG, “I asked the owner to expand because what will happen to only 12 tables when you want to compete with other casinos here? It’s not possible.”
Key to Royce’s growth is, and has been, a greater focus on the international tourism market: Avendaño says that while Koreans represent only around 20% of visitors to Clark’s casino floors, they generate around 70% of their revenues.
“When I arrived in 2016, the target market was mainly from Region III (Central Luzon),” he explains.
“We had a good base of local players but we were lacking in foreign players. That’s why I hired a Korean interpreter and a Chinese interpreter to at least get a piece of the pie the other casinos are enjoying.
“What we are lacking here in Clark as of now is a Chinese market so that will be the next thing to grow and we will be looking to bring in some of the big junkets to help with that.”
One other trend Avendaño will keep an eye on is the rising engagement of slot machines since RGB International Bhd responded to a request to update Royce’s allocation to the latest Asian releases.
“Two years ago around 55% of our revenue, excluding [Korean] junkets, came from gaming tables and 45% from slots,” he says. “In 2018 that reversed to 52% from slots and 48% from gaming. This year it is looking more like 56% from slots.
“When I took over, slot machines contributed around Php30 million per month but now some months we get more than Php80 million from them.
“We’ll have to wait and see how that translates to our new casino when it opens. At the moment our annual GGR is around Php2.8 billion to Php3 billion but our target for the new property is to at least double that.”