The Philippines casino where a fatal attack occurred just weeks ago is now attempting to win back customers.
A lone gunman stormed his way into the Resorts World Manila (RWM) casino last month and set fire to several gaming tables leaving 38 people dead, including the assailant. Operations were then suspended.
Last week, after the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), announced it was losing money due to the closure of its casino, the regulator gave RWM the green light to reopen.
“Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has lifted the suspension order against Travellers International Hotel Group, Inc. (TIHGI), under the business name Resorts World Manila to operate gaming activities,” a press release on PAGCOR’s website says.
Following the reopening, TIHGI announced it would be expanding the casino’s safety measures. The company has already replaced RWM’S security team and hired an international consultant.
“We’re spending a lot of time enhancing the overall security of the place and learning about what had happened,” Chief Executive Officer at TIHGI, Kingson Sian, told Bloomberg.
“We obviously have to gain back the trust of our guests and the public.”
The company is still under investigation for the attack over an alleged lack of security protocols present.
According to Mr Sian, the closure cost the company around P60 million a day in lost gaming revenue.
PAGCOR reported the government lost “an average of P14 million per day…as a result of the suspension order.”
On top of that, the retail outlets, entertainment facilities and cinemas lost 10,000 customers a day, while the number of hotel visitors dropped from 90 percent to 40 percent. According to Bloomberg, it is now at a 60 percent occupancy rate.
As a result, TIHGI is offering discounted movie tickets and free parking to get customers to return.
A new gaming floor – away from where the incident took place – also planned for the end of the year is expected to be larger than the one destroyed on June 2.
Mr Sian also revealed the casino will have an enhanced “containment style” defence system which will be unveiled in the coming months.
TIHGI will not be letting anyone go, according to Mr Sian, who also revealed the company would be compensating families involved in the incident. Free education has also been offered to the children of the victims.
PAGCOR granted the RWM license to TIHGI in 2008 and the casino then opened in 2009.
Despite the tragic incident, the company is focusing on growing its operations with a P50.5 billion complex scheduled to open in Manila in 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.”
Philippines government initiates plan to sell casinos
Meanwhile, the government’s plan to privatise its PAGCOR-licensed casinos is in motion. The government believes PAGCOR should have one role – it currently acts as a regulator and an operator – and to do this it needs to sell its casinos.
Although there are concerns the sale of state-run casinos will mean less revenue for the government, officials say tax revenue from private owners ensures this will not be the case.