A Philippines casino that was shut down by local regulators when its Australian owners failed to stump up the requisite cash to maintain its license will be ready to reopen soon, according to a filing to the Australian Securities Exchange.

Frontier Capital’s Philippines casino close to reopening

I am shocked… shocked… that gambling is not going on here: The Casino Casablanca in the Philippines, which was shuttered by the country’s regulator in February this year, could be about to reopen. (Image: AP)

Australian-listed Frontier Capital Management bought the Casablanca Casino in Angeles City last year from Stotsenberg Leisure & Hotel Corporation for $26 million, but failed to place $4.4 million into an escrow account, which was a condition of its licensing.

The casino was subsequently closed down by Philippine regulator PAGCOR, which said it had given the Frontier several extensions on the deadline for the requirement to be fulfilled.

The $4.4 million was initially covered by a bank guarantee, but when that expired, the $4.4 million failed to materialize.

Parting of Ways

Frontier had hired an absurdly punctuated company called E!xcite Gaming to operate the casino, which acquired a stake in Frontier and promised a five-year profit guarantee of US$5 million per annum, starting January 2016.

But by February the following year, the two companies had apparently fallen out and parted ways “by mutual consent.”

It seems the failure to fund the account was related to the disagreement between the two parties. At an earnings report issued this week, Frontier execs said their agreement with E!xcite had been officially terminated. They had found a new partner and were now confident of reopening the casino.

“Discussions are underway with a new manager that will be appointed concurrent with the escrow account funding and the recommencement of operations at the casino,” they said.

Around 200 workers lost their jobs when the casino, situated at the Hotel Stotsenberg in the Clark Freeport special economic zone, was shuttered by PAGCOR.

Lam on the Lam

The Casablanca was the second casino PAGCOR was forced to close down in the zone in as many months. Gaming tycoon Jack Lam’s Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino was raided by police in December last year after it was discovered he was employing 1,300 illegal Chinese nationals to operate an illicit online casino on the premises.

Lam went on the lam, with the Philippine’s controversial president Rodrigo Duterte admitting that he “wanted to kill him.”

But when PAGCOR is not closing them down and their owners are not receiving death threats from the president, the country’s casinos are doing just great.

The gaming sector is the fastest growing in the world, thanks largely to improved relations between the Philippines and China, which has sparked an influx of tourists from the Chinese mainland.

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