Philippines Poised To Be Asia’s Second-largest Casino Hub In Asia

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According to the president of Manila’s gaming agency, the Philippines may surpass Singapore as early as next year to become Asia’s second-largest gambling destination after Macau. This is because new integrated resorts are expected to increase visitor numbers and counteract a fall in Chinese tourists visiting the country.

Enrique Razon
Enrique Razon, Filipino billionaire and the chairman and CEO of the Manila-listed company International Container Terminal Services, Inc. Image:

Alejandro Tengco, chairman and CEO of state regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp, or Pagcor, stated in an interview on Tuesday at his office that up to eight more casino projects are being planned, in addition to the new integrated resort that billionaire Enrique Razon’s Bloombery Resorts Corp. is set to open in Manila later this year. According to him, the regulator also intends to sell state-run casinos by early 2026.

“If Singapore doesn’t expand, they will plateau. Don’t be surprised if we will surpass them next year,” Tengco said.

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After setting a record of PHP285 billion last year, the Philippines anticipates total gaming income to soar to a new high of PHP336 billion pesos (USD8 billion) this year. When Bloomberg News inquired about Tengco’s assertions, Singapore’s Gambling Regulatory Authority said it had no comment and cited Genting Singapore G13’s and Las Vegas Sands Corp’s financial statements for information on the income of the city-state’s two integrated resorts.

Tengco projects that Singapore’s gross gaming income will be approximately USD6 billion annually.

Manila relies on its casinos and integrated resorts to help increase tourism after the COVID outbreak severely reduced visits. The nation hopes to welcome 7.7 million international visitors this year, down from 5.45 million in 2023 — a figure still less than the 8.26 million pre-pandemic total from 2019.

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The nation’s future casinos, which can cost up to USD 1.2 billion, will be in the capital, Manila, at the former US airbase Clark and in tourist magnets like Cebu and Boracay. Tengco shared, “As you open new markets, new customers will come.”

The business will continue to thrive even with a slower influx of Chinese tourists, according to Tengco, as locals and visitors from South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore make up the majority of casino patrons in the Philippines.

With the Philippines’ gaming revenue rising, new integrated resorts will “hopefully neutralise the decline in Chinese tourist arrivals,” said Tengco, adding that Chinese high rollers are still playing in the country. Alongside this, the Philippines is expanding its online casino sector, which last year accounted for five percent of the nation’s overall gaming revenue and is predicted to grow quicker than land-based casinos.

“Our advantage over Macau is that they don’t have online gaming,” Tengco said. Pagcor plans to launch its own online gaming website later this year and is seeking a joint venture partner to operate it.

Alejandro Tengco
Alejandro Tengco, chairman and CEO of state regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. Image:

That is part of Pagcor’s efforts to boost the revenue stream of the agency’s Casino Filipino brand — a collection of 41 mostly small casino outlets — ahead of a planned sale of its casino assets so the agency can solely focus on being a regulator. “We want to decouple because Pagcor has been wearing two hats for too long,” he said, adding the company’s remit is rare in the gambling world.

The statute establishing the organisation as a casino operator and gaming regulator is scheduled to expire in 2033. Pagcor must change the regulation to privatise its casino assets and add 25 years to the agency’s corporate existence.

By late next year or early 2026, Pagcor hopes to offer its casinos in bundles grouped by geography. From the sale, Tengco anticipates Pagcor to raise between PHP60 and PHP80 billion. He said that it will also sell its intended gaming website.

“If we’re successful in the privatisation efforts, investors will have more confidence to invest,” Tengco said.

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