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Philippines opens bid to join global gambling elite with $1.5b casino

Published on Mar 13, 2013 2:05 PM
Workers walk outside the Solaire casino, which is due to open at Entertainment City in Pasay City, Metro Manila. Buoyed by stellar economic growth and one of the world's top performing stock markets this year, Philippines' casino rush is starting with the slated opening in March of port magnate Enrique Razon Jr's $1.2 billion Solaire property. Picture taken Dec 17, 2012. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (AFP) - The Philippines makes its biggest bet this weekend in a high-stakes bid to join the world's elite gaming destinations, with the launch of a US$1.2 billion (S$1.5 billion) casino on Manila Bay.

Solaire Manila Resorts is the first of four enormous entertainment venues slated to rise over a giant chunk of prime, reclaimed land that industry and government leaders expect will attract millions of cashed-up Asian tourists.

"What Solaire brings is an entertainment and gaming experience that doesn't exist in the Philippines today," its American chief operating officer Michael French told AFP in an interview this week ahead of Saturday's opening. "It will be like going to Las Vegas. This raises the scale, the excitement and the... glamour."

Controlled by billionaire Philippine port operator Enrique Razon, Solaire has 300 gaming tables, 1,200 slot machines and seven restaurants. The building also has 500 hotel rooms and 2,000 parking slots. It features glass ceilings filtering abundant tropical sunlight, huge chandeliers, thick red-themed carpets, blown glass wall-to-ceiling panels, water pools and an army of cocktail waitresses in tiny red dresses.

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