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Philippines' biggest casino hits early jackpot

The Philippines' biggest casino announced on Monday it had begun raking in huge profits in 12 months of operations, which it said vindicated its decision to sack its American managers.

MANILA: The Philippines' biggest casino announced on Monday it had begun raking in huge profits in 12 months of operations, which it said vindicated its decision to sack its American managers.

Bloomberry Resorts Corp., operator of Solaire Resorts and Casino, reported a net profit of 1.461 billion pesos (US$32.78 million) from January to March.

This was a turnaround from the 1.056-billion-peso loss in the same period last year, at the time Solaire was throwing its doors open to the public.

"It is significant that we were able to turn a profit after only a year of operation," Bloomberry chairman and chief executive Enrique Razon said in a statement.

Bloomberry opened the US$1.2-billion Solaire on reclaimed land on Manila Bay on March 16 last year.

It was the first of four, billion-dollar casinos to rise on the government property as part of the government's bid to become Asia's third major gambling hub alongside Macau and Singapore.

The gaming resorts are a key part of the Philippines' bid to raise annual tourist arrivals to 10 million by 2016, from 4.68 million last year.

Razon, one of the country's richest men and the majority-shareholder of Bloomberry, emphasised Solaire achieved the early turn to profits after firing the casino's American managers last year.

Bloomberry announced in September that it had terminated the management contract of Las Vegas-based Global Gaming Asset Management for a breach of contract, in a dispute that was referred to international arbitrators in Singapore.

"This is proof positive that the group, without a third-party management company, has the ability and the acumen to manage an integrated resort," Razon said.

As part of its commitments to win a gaming license, Bloomberry committed to building an "integrated resort" which offered a wide range of family entertainment and not just gambling.

However Bloomberry said 95.7 percent of its revenues from January to March came from gaming, with just 3.9 percent from its food, beverage and hotel business. Retail and others income made up 0.4 percent of revenues.

Razon said the past year was spent "building our core business", and that the other elements of an integrated resort would open in the fourth quarter of this year.

The second of the four gaming resorts, called the City of Dreams Manila and run by Macau-based Melco Crown Entertainment, is due to open this year.

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