* VIP gaming revenues jump 44 percent y/y
* Galaxy still planning on Philippines casino
* Actively exploring Japan (Adds details on earnings, expansion plans)
HONG KONG, May 3 (Reuters) - Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group posted a 36 percent rise in its first-quarter EBITDA due to resurgent demand from gamblers in the world’s biggest casino hub.
Galaxy is one of the six listed casino operators in the Chinese territory of Macau, which is the only place in the country where citizens are legally allowed to gamble.
Macau’s overall market has grown over the past year, with new resorts increasing competition for casino operators such as Wynn Macau Ltd, MGM China Holdings Ltd, SJM Holdings Ltd, Sands China Ltd and Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd.
Galaxy said on Thursday revenue rose 32 percent year-on-year to HK$18.5 billion ($2.36 billion), while adjusted EBITDA was HK$4.3 billion.
In the first quarter, total gaming revenue from VIP high-rollers jumped 44 percent year on year to HK$9.9 billion, Galaxy said. Revenue from mass market players gained 17 percent year on year to HK$6.7 billion.
The company outlined several of its development strategies in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange on Thursday including its development on Cotai, which will add 4,500 hotel rooms to a strip of flashy resorts built on reclaimed land modelled after Las Vegas.
The company is also planning to build a non-gaming resort on the neighbouring Chinese island of Hengqin.
Galaxy, which announced in March plans to develop a $500 million casino resort in the Philippines holiday island of Boracay, said it was working with its local partner for further clarification after the government shut the island for restoration at the end of April.
The company said it was actively pursuing a resort in Japan and had expanded its team there with the appointment of Ted Chan as chief operating officer of Japan Development. ($1 = 7.8492 Hong Kong dollars) (Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Sunil Nair)