- Associated Press - Monday, February 2, 2015

MANILA, Philippines (AP) - Melco Crown Entertainment formally opened its $1 billion casino and entertainment resort in Manila on Monday, hoping to cash in on a fast growing Philippine economy and increased tourism.

The company’s co-chairman and CEO Lawrence Ho said the opening of the City of Dreams Manila is part of the company’s plans to have casinos across Asia.

It operates casinos in the world’s biggest gambling market, Macau. China’s corruption crackdown has deterred high-rolling mainland gamblers from Macau’s casino tables in the past year.

The Manila casino will cater to the growing influx of tourists to the Philippines, but Clarence Chung Yuk Man, chairman of the Philippine arm of Melco Crown, said it would also target local gamblers who are estimated to have parted with $2.3 billion last year.

He said out of the casino operators with licenses in the Philippines, Melco is the only one with a customer base in Macau and can bring in VIP customers and high-rollers.

“We will promote cross marketing and also try to promote this property to our customers so that there is additional choice for them,” Chung told a news conference.

Australian billionaire James Packer, who is Melco’s co-chairman, said the Philippines’ strong economy, its 100 million people and rising tourism offer a huge market potential.

The resort houses a casino; the Crown, Nobu and Hyatt hotels; two premium nightclubs; the world’s first DreamWorks-inspired interactive play space DreamPlay; restaurants and retail shops.

Nobu is part-owned by Hollywod star Robert de Nero, who appears in a video commercial for the resort, alongside Leonardo Di Caprio and director Martin Scorcese.

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