- Published on Tuesday, 26 February 2013 00:00
- Written by AMADO P. MACASAET
By A Web design Company
Solaire, the first casino in Entertainment City, will open on March 16 at exactly 2.28 pm. That may well be the first indication that the casino will cater mainly to Chinese high rollers.
The exact time of 2.28 pm may have been suggested by Chinese experts in feng shui, the Chinese art of balancing energies in a given space to ensure health and good fortune to those who will use it.
Enrique K. Razon, principal owner of Solaire, threw modesty to the four winds when he said that he has hired 38 international chefs, who he said are “the best in the world.”
He knew that the restaurants of Solaire will have a mark-up of only one per cent over cost. Peanuts of a business! Solaire, like the rest of the casinos in the world, does not expect to make much money offering the best food, a good part of which is in fact served free in the suites or gaming tables of high rollers.
Razon confided to Malaya Business Insight in a chance interview that he wanted to scare the daylights out of the best gaming places in the world, including those in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Atlantic City, New Jersey.
His ambition is to compete with Macau, which reported revenues of $37 billion in 2012. Macau, an autonomous region of China, is just across the border with the mainland and only a three-hour plane ride from Beijing. Macau teems with Mandarin-speaking people who make Chinese high rollers extremely comfortable. The Chinese high rollers would need about 14 hours to fly to Las Vegas and about 16 hours to fly to Atlantic City. On the other hand, it would take only about three hours to fly from Beijing to Manila.
But none of the casinos in that former Portuguese territory has 38 chefs from France, the UK, the United States, Spain and from prosperous Oriental cities.
There is one in the Philippines. That is Solaire of Razon who, at slightly over 50 years old, is one of the biggest port operators in the world, managing close to 40 piers abroad apart from several in the Philippines.
By the time the $1.2 billion Solaire complex is completed next year, it will have 2,000 rooms with enough suites for high rollers who will be flown to the Philippines in chartered big birds at the casino’s expense.
Razon said Solaire will have 1,200 slot machines. Worldwide, casinos get more than 50 percent of their income from these machines. For the high rollers, there are 294 gaming tables. About 80 per cent of them is for baccarat.
In obvious appreciation of the fact that an estimated 30 per cent of average revenues of casinos in the world is coughed up by the Chinese, Razon has hired 120 dealers straight from China.
He said the high rollers from that country feel more comfortable burning their money or making some with Mandarin-speaking Chinese from their homeland. He pointed out that the Mandarin language is one of the biggest attractions of Macau in getting the high rollers from China.
There are gaming suites, about 40 square meters in floor area. These are, Razon said, for those who want to be alone with the card dealer. Other suites have three or four tables. They are at least 100 square meters in floor area. These are, Razon said, for those who want peace and quiet but not necessarily alone.
Razon invited nearly all of the world’s biggest junket operators to have a look-see of the design and appurtenances of the casino building.
More than 10 of them have signed yearly renewable contracts to fly to Solaire the biggest gamblers in the world. Razon said seven of the exclusive gaming rooms have already been contracted.
Razon would not talk about revenues Solaire expects to make. It was Cristino “Bong” Naguiat, chairman and executive of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., which licenses private casinos in the country, who said that Solaire will make at least $10 billion in revenue by the end of the next four years in 2017.
“High rollers will come by the planeloads when Solaire opens,” Naguiat earlier told Malaya Business Insight. “Solaire,” he said, “is the best casino in the world.”
Razon has brought back home around 450 young Filipino men and women working in casinos and hotels in Macau and Singapore. He pirated several CEOs of casinos in Las Vegas and Macau.
It has long been noted in the gaming business that the Chinese high rollers prefer to be with fellow Orientals, particularly Mandarin-speaking Chinese. Solaire has them in Mandarin-speaking Chinese Filipinos. Yet he hired a few Chinese citizens to make sure everything goes well with the Chinese high rollers who have been committed to come and play in Solaire by the so-called junket operators.
Because Solaire was designed almost exclusively for high-end gamblers, Razon made sure they are provided with maximum security. He has hired more than 100 security men, most of whom are newly-retired policemen in the intelligence service of the PNP. Some are in uniform for visibility.
The plainclothes men will be assigned to the group of high rollers.
Razon has observed how the casinos in the United States are run. Nearly all of them have exclusive rooms for high rollers. But the gaming areas teem with people – some Filipinos, some Hispanics, who loaf until the early hours of the morning, pan in hand, practically begging for “balato” (a pittance of a share in the winnings but these chisellers have no way of knowing which gambler lost a fortune and who made a pile).
“Sorry for them,” Razon said. ‘’They will not be allowed in Solaire.” In fact, he said, sneakers and shorts are not allowed either.
Malaya Business Insight saw some of the furniture, like chairs. They are of the highest quality imported from the United States.
The minimum bets, even in slot machines, are higher than in any casino in the Philippines. This is one small way of giving Solaire the reputation of being world class.