The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) CEO, Alejandro Tengco, has announced a significant recovery for the country's gambling sector, with figures approaching those seen before the global pandemic struck. This turnaround is attributed to the country's removal of travel and movement restrictions, revitalizing the leisure, travel, and entertainment sectors, and promising sustained industry growth.
The Philippines, like many nations, imposed severe restrictions during the COVID-19 crisis, including halting travel and temporarily shuttering land-based gaming facilities. Now, with all rules lifted, the gambling industry has seen a robust comeback, with gross gaming revenue (GGR) nearing the levels of 2019—a year that recorded PAGCOR's highest gaming revenue.
GGR Trends and Projections
Recent reports from PAGCOR for the first nine months of 2023 reflect a revenue of PHP55.95 billion, predominantly from gaming operations. If the current trajectory persists, Tengco anticipates the industry could even surpass the 2019 record GGR in 2023. He credits domestic players and an influx of new tourists for compensating for the absence of traditional high rollers and junkets.
Expansion and Development
Looking ahead, Tengco points to developing more integrated resorts, such as those in the Clark Freeport Zone, as a catalyst for future growth. Clark's evolution into a significant gaming and tourism hub is projected to be realized within this decade, complemented by its burgeoning infrastructure and tourist attractions.
PAGCOR's Modernization Efforts
PAGCOR is not resting on its laurels, embarking on a modernization program to bolster revenue. This includes the addition of 3,000 new slot machines by January 2024 and the enhancement of table games. An agreement with a supplier under a revenue-sharing scheme will yield PHP18 billion over five years.
Additionally, Tengco revealed progress on launching a new online platform, Casinofilipino.com, scheduled to go live in Q1 of 2024 and expected to capture a significant portion of the online market's profits.
Towards a Regulatory Future
Recent statements from PAGCOR suggest a shift towards becoming a "purely regulatory" entity, leading to the privatization of its gambling operations. This strategic move is intended to create a level playing field and foster growth among other operators in the industry. Currently, PAGCOR operates the Casino Filipino chain, with eight active properties nationwide.
Resurgence of the Philippines Gambling Industry
The Philippines' gambling industry is on a vigorous path to reclaiming its pre-pandemic glory, thanks to strategic developments and modernization initiatives led by PAGCOR. With the anticipated launch of new online platforms and a focus on becoming a regulatory authority, the industry is poised for significant advancement and competition in the global gambling market.