Off The Wire
REFILE-UPDATE 1-Macau casino owner Galaxy's profit surges, plans Philippine resort
(Makes clear that VIP revenues are for Galaxy Macau in 3rd paragraph)
* Strong VIP revenues boost earnings
* Company plans $500 million Philippine resort
HONG KONG, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group posted a 67 percent jump in full-year net profit as Chinese high rollers returned to the world's biggest casino hub.
Galaxy, one of six listed casino operators in the Chinese territory of Macau, the only place in the country where citizens are legally allowed to gamble, reported HK$10.5 billion ($1.34 billion) in net profit attributable to shareholders for 2017.
The company said VIP rolling chip volume, or betting volume by wealthy gamblers at its flagship casino Galaxy Macau, rose 27 percent to HK$621.5 billion last year. This translated to an 18 percent increase in revenue to HK$23.1 billion.
Galaxy said it was exploring opportunities in the Philippines to develop a beach resort on the Boracay Island. Galaxy currently does not operate any casinos outside Macau.
The company plans to spend around $500 million initially for the Philippines project, Deputy Chairman Francis Lui said at a press conference on Wednesday.
The company is positive on the prospects for its Macau casino licence ahead of the expirations for all six licensed operators which start in 2020, he said.
The Macau casino industry is recovering from a more than two-year decline that coincided with a government campaign against ostentatiousness among public officials.
Macau's overall market has grown over the past year, with new resorts intensifying competition for casino operators such as Wynn Macau Ltd , MGM China Holdings Ltd , SJM Holdings Ltd , Sands China Ltd and Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd . ($1 = 7.8289 Hong Kong dollars)
(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri and Gopakumar Warrier)