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Manila Casino Aims to Win Back Trust, Expand After Fatal Fire

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Resorts World Manila, the Philippine casino where 38 people died after an arson attack last month, aims to complete a new gaming zone this year as it seeks to win back customers and rebuild its brand.

“We’re spending a lot of time enhancing the overall security of the place and learning about what had happened,” Kingson Sian, 55, Chief Executive Officer at Travellers International Hotel Group Inc., which owns and operates the integrated casino resort, said in an interview on July 3. “We obviously have to gain back the trust of our guests and the public.”

Travellers, a venture of billionaires Andrew Tan from the Philippines and Lim Kok Thay of Malaysia, is facing its toughest challenge since opening the integrated gaming facility eight years ago. On June 2, a former patron burned gaming tables with fumes asphyxiating dozens before he killed himself. The company is under probe for the security breach that led to the attack and its gaming license was suspended for almost a month.

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Closure of Resorts World Manila’s casino facility cost the company about 60 million pesos ($1.2 million) a day in lost gaming revenue, Sian said, with customers to the complex, which has a shopping mall, cinemas and restaurants, dropping by as many as 10,000 a day to 20,000. Hotel occupancy plunged to 40 percent from 90 percent and is now at about 60 percent. When the casino reopened on June 29, traffic was half of that before the attack.

Manila Casino Aims to Win Back Trust, Expand After Fatal Fire

“While many of its mass-based patrons are loyal and will probably come back, the stigma from this tragedy is a setback for further growth," said Manny Cruz, an analyst at Asiasec Securities. “Travellers must take this opportunity to improve its image, recalibrate its business and think of its future."

Sian, who met with the families of those killed and attended victims’ wakes, said Travellers will hold off cutting jobs as it speeds up completion of a new gaming area. The company is compensating families and will pay for the education of victims’ children.

Maybank ATR Kim Eng sees impact of tragedy to linger for the next two to three years, cuts gaming revenue estimates for Travellers: read more.

Travellers is trying to woo customers with cheaper movie tickets, food discounts and free parking. Its security team has been replaced, an overseas group hired as a consultant and, within a month, it plans to unveil an enhanced “containment style” defense system, Sian said.

Getting back to business is crucial as the venture of Tan’s Alliance Global Group Inc. and Lim’s Genting Hong Kong Ltd. aims to open by year end a casino floor larger than the one destroyed on June 2, six months earlier than scheduled, while the damaged area will be converted into a retail zone, Sian said.

Manila Casino Aims to Win Back Trust, Expand After Fatal Fire

Travellers’ earnings have fallen in seven of the previous nine quarters, while those of its rivals including Bloomberry Resorts Corp. and Melco Resorts & Entertainment Philippines Corp. have been steadily growing as they attracted more foreign players and high rollers. Competition among Manila casinos is intensifying as Universal Entertainment Corp., the casino venture of Japanese tycoon Kazuo Okada, ramps up operations.

Travellers holds one of four integrated casino licenses issued by the Philippines government in 2008 to develop Manila’s Entertainment City and grab a bigger share of Asia’s rising gambling revenue. The company has spent $1.2 billion since opening Resorts World Manila in 2009 and is scheduled to operate a $1 billion complex in Manila’s gaming hub by early 2021.

“It’s one of the sad events in our history but, nevertheless, we believe in the long term potential of the industry,” Sian said. “We believe in the future of both tourism and gaming. We have a long view and we are committed to this.”

Read more http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&ct2=us&usg=AFQjCNG_T9erZa29g5LGMpIU-MbKKx5AVQ&clid=c3a7d30bb8a4878e06b80cf16b898331&cid=52779548301721&ei=w7VdWeDHMYTohQHoy46IDw&url=https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-05/manila-casino-aims-to-win-back-trust-expand-after-fatal-fire

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