The launch of a new boutique casino inside Subic Bay Yacht Club in November provides an attractive waterside alternative for the Philippines’ high-end gaming and leisure market.
Located just 45 minutes by car from Clark Freeport Zone on the Philippines’ coastline, Subic Bay is an idyllic waterside holiday spot known both as a popular weekend getaway for those living in Manila and a home away from home for the Philippines’ rich and famous.
It is also the location of arguably the country’s most unique casino at the prestigious Subic Bay Yacht Club. Quietly opened on 11 November this year, with full operations in place as of 1 December, the casino is just the second in the world to be based either inside or directly connected to a yacht club, with Hobart in Tasmania, Australia being the first.
And before you go claiming they’ve forgotten about a little place called Monte Carlo, we’re reliably informed by Manuel Antonio Sequeira, CEO and President of one of the casino’s partner firms, Volare Grandezza, that, “Monte Carlo is split by a road, it is owned by the government and they are two different enterprises, so it’s not inside the Yacht Club.”
The boutique casino is a new addition to Subic Bay Yacht Club, which celebrates its 22nd year in 2019. A joint venture between Volare Grandezza and Frontier Wish International Ltd, the casino concept was borne four years ago with the Php500 million (US$10 million investment) aimed at capitalizing on the lucrative clientele base Subic Bay is starting to attract.
“Subic is a safe haven in the boating world, and we have mega-yachts coming in on a weekly and monthly basis to use Subic Bay as their base,” Sequeira says.
“We have everything from Russian mega-yachts measuring 200 meters and above to mega-ships coming in from China – the smallest hosting 3,800 guests and the biggest 5,200 guests, which is a huge market.
“So we saw an opportunity that this Yacht Club would be a great base to host a casino. We are positioning ourselves very much as a boutique casino.”
Offering impressive views out over Subic Bay, the yacht club casino currently has 43 gaming tables and 169 slot machines in operation, with in-house junkets set to begin in January 2020 and partnerships with international Junket operators from across Asia also in the pipeline. Facilities to allow for proxy betting are already in place.
Like Clark, Subic Bay is a Freeport Zone which allows it to take advantage of certain tax benefits aimed at driving new business to the area. Unlike Clark, Koreans don’t necessarily make up its primary target market (although there are three world-class golf courses nearby just in case).
“The growing market in Asia of people boating, yachting, will bring people here,” Sequeira says, adding that Subic Bay is all about providing a high-end, experiential offering.
“The fishing here is fantastic and just 20 minutes out by boat we have coves which you will drool over with pristine sands, unreachable by road, a two kilometer beach with nobody else around and clear, clean water. It’s something we can produce that nobody else can.”
Sequeira is also confident that Subic Bay will benefit from the completion of new skyways in Manila which are expected to slash travel times significantly. Based on computer simulations, he says a journey by car from Solaire Resort & Casino in Entertainment City will take just 90 minutes at the speed limit, which “opens access from Manila to us in a huge way.”
“Subic will grow at a very, very fast pace. We foresee it, we are not trying to budget something that is impossible. We are learning this market, but already our bases show the importance of this casino being placed here.”