There’s no business like casino business

I remember the year 1979 because that was my first trip to the United States of America, highlighted by a two-night stay in Las Vegas. I strolled at the famous “Strip” and I walked in and out of the casinos. Ah! The good life, if you have the money to spend. If you don’t have it, just be the boy from “Tanauan.” Mag miron ka na lang.

In 1979, Henry Sy Sr. was not yet in banking, retail, power and casino business. Now, his family is involved with the City of Dreams, the biggest casino in operation today in this country. From one who migrated into the country and started selling shoes in a small store in Carriedo Street in Sta. Cruz District in Manila in the 50s, he is now included among the 100 richest persons in the world. That’s quite a feat.

The casino business is a good and profitable business. The Sys are now in partnership with Kerry Packer of Australia and Lawrence Ho of Macao and operates the City of Dreams. I made a visit once and I was impressed.

* My traveled pass my first visit to Vegas. – Koy I can’t understand this part *

Enrique “Ricky” Razon Jr., who is in port terminal operation, ventured also in the casino business and his Solaire casino is raking in money from the high rollers of Asian gamblers.

According to the papers, at 55, he is the youngest Filipino to make the list in Forbes richest men in the world. There’s another big one, The Tiger casino being built also in a reclaimed area in Pasay City.

Looking back, sometime in the 60s, the casinos in this country were lined along the stretch of Roxas Boulevard. I worked as a public relations and liason man of the late Nicanor ‘Junior’ De Guzman of Nueva Ecija. He was operating several casinos together with his brother-in-law Rudy Ilustre, some of which I remember like the Ambassador, Stardust, Chrysantemum and La Sirena.

The Magdaluyos, Riveros and a few more others came up with their own establishments only to be closed down when President Ferdinand Marcos proclaimed martial law in September 1972.

There were also some operations in the provinces during those years. Lawyer Rogelio Z. Bangsil of Magalang studied law and passed the bar but found that the legal profession was not really for him. He started his casino operation in Olongapo City in the late 60s in partnership with the Escalonas. He operated three casinos there, the Rovisa, Gold Nugget and the Big C.

I was in my early 20s when he hired me as a his general manager in the operation of his Marisol Manor Hotel and Casino which was located in a secluded area in the Marisol subdivision. I want to think till today that I have the bragging right that we were able to beat the three other casinos in the city in terms of patronage. These were the Lazatin-run Kontiki casino along the Macarthur Highway, The Oasis Casino operated by the late Ed Antonio ans the Skyline Casino owned by the late Rod Feliciano. They were unregulated by government, unlike today the Philipine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) issues guidelines.

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