Suncity Philippines foray questioned by regulators

Suncity’s backdoor foray into the Philippines gaming industry has raised questions from industry stakeholders, particularly regulators, according to local media. 

Last week, the Hong Kong-listed junket operator announced it has acquired a controlling stake in SunTrust Home Developers Inc, a company involved in developing and operating the casino portion of the long-awaited Westside City Resort World project in Entertainment City. 

At the time, Suncity said its investment in SunTrust marks the first step towards establishing the Group’s footprint in the casino and entertainment market of the Philippines.

The acquisition, however, has raised questions from the local market, as well as regulators, according to Philstar. 

Asked for comment, Nicky Franco, head of research for Abacus Securities Corp., said the fact that Suntrust got the right to build and operate a casino was “surprising” as it comes less than a month after the delisting of Resorts World Manila. 

At the time, the delisting application clearly stated that there were no plans to develop Westside. 

Franco said the latest moves from Suncity seems to counter that claim.

Regarding the alleged misleading delisting claim, PSE chief operating officer Roel Refran said that bourse will study the matter. 

The transaction has also been questioned by an existing casino operator in Entertainment City, who has asked not to be named. 

“What is their license to operate in the Entertainment City?” said the source to Philstar.

Last week, Sunstar confirmed the deal has gone ahead but has yet to clarify the questions raised by stakeholders.