Villar is one of the Philippines’ largest landowners and commercial and residential real estate developers. The second-richest person in the Philippines, according to Forbes, with an estimated net worth of $7.8 billion, Villar said last Friday that he wants to redevelop the Global South mall into a casino and entertainment destination.
Global South sits on about 200 acres in Las Piñas, a city within Manila’s National Capital Region. The shopping district is just a few miles south of Manila’s Entertainment City. where three of the capital’s IR casinos are located: City of Dreams, Okada Manila, and Solaire.
A fourth IR — the newly named Newport World Resorts (formerly Resorts World Manila) — is located east of Entertainment City, adjacent to Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The facility is the primary international air hub serving Manila.
Villar’s business career began in the seafood industry before he moved to commercial building products. He later began constructing his real estate empire before embarking on an array of commercial enterprises, including owning cemeteries, water distribution plants, and a health care firm called Vitacare.
Villar entered politics in 1992 and served in the Philippines House of Representatives and Senate. He was Senate President from July 2006 through mid-November 2008.
If Villar’s Manila casino vision comes to fruition, he says his son, Manuel Paolo Villar, will oversee its planning, development, and construction.
Villar revealed last week that he intends to overhaul about 18,000 square meters (~193,750 square feet) of the current Global South mall into casino space. The rest of the shopping complex would be reutilized into resort amenities, including a spa, entertainment venues, restaurants and bars, and outdoor pools.
Villar’s vision additionally features nongaming hotels, condo hotels, and a theme park.
Villar says he’s modeling his blueprint off of Solaire in terms of scope and overall size. As for its customer focus, the billionaire says the casino will target a mass audience over high rollers.
The Las Vegas model no longer relies on the high rollers, but mostly slot machines,” Villar explained of his mass-market emphasis. “The casino will be the anchor. I look at it more as a resort.”
Villar added that he’s currently discussing the project with foreign-based gaming operators. A partnership for the forthcoming casino resort’s operations, he said, could be announced in the coming months.
City of Dreams is operated by Hong Kong-based Melco Resorts. Tiger Resort, Leisure, and Entertainment operates Okada Manila, and Solaire is owned and managed by Philippines-based Bloomberry Resorts. Malaysia’s Genting Group is behind Newport World Resorts.
Villar received a gaming license to operate a casino in Manila from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) in 2019. It was for the project he called “Gold Coast Entertainment City.” COVID-19 suspended those plans, which suggested a gaming development near Ninoy Aquino International.
Villar says PAGCOR has granted him provisional approval to use the 2019 gaming concession for his Global South project. The billionaire told media reporters last Friday that local approvals from Las Piñas government officials have also been received.