Philippines’ gambling industry poised for growth, eyes expansion beyond Macau and Singapore

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Alejandro Tengco, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), foresees the Philippines surpassing Singapore as Asia’s second-largest gambling destination after Macau as early as next year. This optimistic outlook is fueled by the upcoming opening of a new integrated resort by Bloombery Resorts Corp., owned by billionaire Enrique Razon, as well as plans for up to eight more casino projects in Manila. Tengco’s statements come amidst a decline in Chinese tourist arrivals, a key market for the region’s gambling industry.

“If Singapore doesn’t expand, they will plateau. Don’t be surprised if next year we will surpass them,” Tengco remarked confidently. The Philippines is banking on its integrated resorts and casinos to help revive tourist arrivals, which have been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges, the country aims to attract 7.7 million foreign tourists this year, up from 5.45 million in 2023 but still below the pre-pandemic level of 8.26 million in 2019.

Tengco’s vision includes future casinos in Manila, at the former US airbase Clark, and in popular tourist destinations like Cebu and Boracay. These developments, with costs reaching up to US$1.2 billion, are expected to draw new customers and markets to the Philippines.

Despite the decline in Chinese tourist arrivals, Tengco remains optimistic, noting that Philippine casinos cater primarily to locals and visitors from South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore. The Philippines’ gaming revenue is on the rise, and Tengco believes that new integrated resorts will help offset the decline in Chinese tourists. He also highlighted the growth potential of the online casino industry, which contributed significantly to the country’s gross gaming revenue last year and is expected to outpace traditional casinos.

Pagcor’s plans include launching its own online gaming website later this year and seeking a joint venture partner to operate it. This initiative aims to enhance the revenue stream of Pagcor’s Casino Filipino brand, which consists of 41 mostly small casino outlets. Pagcor plans to privatize its casino assets to focus solely on regulatory functions, with the goal of raising 60 billion to 80 billion pesos from the sale.

“If we’re successful in the privatization efforts, investors will have more confidence to invest,” Tengco concluded. The future of the Philippines’ gambling industry looks promising, with ambitious plans and a clear strategy to capture a larger share of the Asian gambling market.

(Source: Bloomberg | SCMP | Gambling Insider | Asia Gaming)

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