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Belle delays casino opening

By ALBERT CASTRO [ ] February 20, 2012

Belle Corp. said it may postpone until next year the soft opening of the gaming portion of its $750 million casino complex in PAGCOR City.

The company still has to comply with the guidelines set by the Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corp. that only those with 800-room hotels in the area will be allowed to operate gaming.

Emmanuel Gana, Belle chief finance officer, said the hotel portion would be completed by the first quarter of next year.

The company will use all P15 billion in capital expenditures for just the construction of the whole complex and does not include the land, Gana said.

"On or about June or July, the curtain walls (in the complex) will be up. People are actually starting works on the interiors already. So by third quarter, we can already have some sort of operations. But the grand opening is first quarter of 2013. By that time we would have 800 rooms, some 20,000 square meters of retail space, and the casino space of about 17,000 sq.m. more or less," said Gana.

"Maybe we’ll soft-open the retail," Gana said.

Belle said in a regulatory filing that the gaming complex will have over 250,000 sq.m. of gross floor area, including 17,000 sq.m. of gaming space and more than 20,000 sq.m. of retail and restaurant facilities.

Belle vice chairman Willy Ocier recently said that the company will have a total of 828 hotel rooms once the whole project is done.

Belle is one of four groups that have won the right to develop the gaming complex, estimated to bring in $15 billion in investment in the gaming industry.

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