Inside Asian Gaming

JULY 2018 INSIDE ASIAN GAMING 19 1,100 more keys in Alliance’s contiguous Newport City complex – a mall with 91 retail outlets and four cinemas, nightclubs and dozens of food and beverage outlets, plus a 1,500-seat performing arts center and the Philippines’ biggest ballroom. In April 2017, RWM completed a 220-meter pedestrian bridge to the airport. “We believe that RWMwill always have a firmplace in thePhilippine integrated resort industry and it’s just a matter of anticipating and meeting the challenges of a changing business landscape,” Travellers Chief Operating Officer Stephen Reilly tells Inside Asian Gaming . That landscape changed abruptly in the early morning hours of 2 June last year when a lone gunman pushed past security, began shooting and set the casino ablaze, killing 36 and injuring more than 50, then killing himself. In the aftermath, the casino was closed until 28 June. The second floor gaming area, center of the blaze, remains shuttered and will be converted to retail. The mall was shut down for nine days. But even as the incident’s impact unfolded, RWM had begun the recovery process. The second floor gaming area, center of the blaze, remains shuttered and will be converted to retail … but even as the incident’s impact unfolded, RWM had begun the recovery process. COVER STORY RWM’s new Holiday Inn Express was previously under the Remington brand. SYMPATHY, SECURITY “Stephen Reilly and his management team communicated clearly in the following days, both in conveying sympathies for the tragic loss of life and in articulating where their security could have been better,” Strategic Market Advisors Managing Director Matthew Landry says. “The company also enhanced its security protocols and systems, helping to restore public confidence.” Other Manila casinos did likewise. “At the time of opening, we employed over 250 security personnel and have almost doubled it since the RWM incident,” Bloomberry Resorts CFO and Treasurer Estella Tuason-Occeña says of her company’s Solaire Resort & Casino. “Pagcor also played an active role in ensuring that all IR operators have adequate security and have policies and procedures in place to better handle such incidents.” The Manila market barely paused following the attack. “A week or two after the RWM incident, there were less people in our mass gaming floor. But after two weeks, it was back to normal,” Tuason-Occeña says. Junket promoter Suncity Group Marketing Strategy President YM Choong says its business in the Philippines was “not affected at all” by the incident. Despite the attack and the disruption at RWM, Philippine gross gaming revenue hit a record Php170 billion (US$3.2 billion) last year, rising 14% from 2016, extending a lengthy growth story. In 2008, before RWM, market GGR stood at Php40.5 billion (US$760 million). WAVES AND TIDES Visitor arrivals to the Philippines grew 11% to a record 6.6 million last year. Nearly half of the rise came from mainland China, up 43% to 968,447 – narrowly overtaking the US as the second biggest visitor source amid warmer Sino-Philippine diplomatic relations and a new visa-upon-arrival policy. South Korea remained the top visitor source at 1.6 million, the top three sources accounting for more than half of all arrivals. Japan was fourth at 584,180. In the first three months of this year, total arrivals rose 15%, Chinese arrivals up another 55%. Economic growth underpins domestic market expansion. Last year Philippine GDP grew 6.7%, third best in East Asia and a sixth