After a decade of neglect, the former Legenda Hotel and Casino here is now being transformed by an online-gaming company into an offshore support facility.
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Roberto Garcia said the once-popular Subic attraction for high-rollers has been taken over by Tele Empire, a company that will engage in business-process outsourcing (BPO) and support services for online gaming.
|The Legenda Hotel and Casino in Subic Bay in its glory days|
The new operator will pay rent for the whole property at an appraised value of P3.6 million a month, Garcia said.
“We got a very good deal here because for a long time, the Legenda Hotel has been a huge eyesore right in the middle of Subic’s business district,” Garcia said in a recent media briefing.
“Now we’re getting rid of this eyesore and getting good money for it, at the same time,” he said.
The former haven for high-rollers sits on one whole block of prime land along the Waterfront Road, right next to Building 229, which houses the main offices of the SBMA.
The Malaysian-owned Legend International Resorts Ltd. Co. (LIRL) started operating the casino-hotel in 1993 with a $130-million investment.
However, the state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) padlocked the Legenda casino in May 2006 for nonpayment of arrears amounting to P365 million.
The LIRL claimed its casino has been operating at a net loss, but Pagcor said its special audit team discovered Legenda was charging expenses in its non-casino operations to its casino operation.
The SBMA has worked on a debt-restructuring scheme with the LIRL management, but the firm did not comply with it, thus, ending up with unpaid obligations to the SBMA amounting to P850 million, records indicated.
After the last employees left in 2009, the hotel building was left to the elements. Last year its derelict façade became the backdrop of a Halloween costume-show organized by SBMA employees.
As of now, the new operator has stripped the facility bare of the furniture and fixtures that remained in the abandoned building.
“It’s already being repaired,” Garcia said.
The SBMA official said while the new operator will provide support services for online gaming, no actual gambling will be done at the Subic premises.
“I will not allow it,” Garcia said. (Henry Empeño, BusinessMirror)
Looking back: Legend Resorts