By Neil Jerome Morales
MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines’ gambling industry is set to double its gross gaming revenue by 2028, as the country attracts more tourists such as wealthy Chinese gamblers, the gaming regulator’s chief said on Wednesday.
At least six new casino facilities worth roughly around $3 billion are in the pipeline to boost the Southeast Asian nation’s freewheeling gaming industry ahead of competition from Japan, which has a sprawling casino set for construction, and Thailand, which is planning to legalise gambling.
The country’s gaming sector will likely post at least 10% annual growth in gross gaming revenue (GGR), which is projected to post a new record high this year and hit 450 billion to 500 billion pesos ($7.9 to $8.8 billion) in five years’ time, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) Chairman Alejandro Tengco told Reuters.
Total GGR, a key metric in the industry representing the amount players wager minus their winnings, hit a record 256 billion in 2019 and was poised for further growth until the coronavirus pandemic decimated the industry. GGR started recovering in 2021 and reached 214 billion in 2022.
“Currently, the strong performance is supported by a stable of local players,” Tengco said. “There is still an opportunity for the foreign market to increase further due to improving foreign travel guidelines.”
However, long-term projections could be dampened by headwinds such as more armed conflicts between countries, proliferation of illegal gambling, and an economic downturn, Tengco said.
The Philippine gambling scene, which includes a smaller version of the Las Vegas gaming strip located in the capital, attracts high rollers from countries like China, Japan and South Korea. It has enticed foreign and domestic firms to set up billion-dollar integrated casino-resorts.
Adding to four sprawling casinos operating in the capital, six more gaming facilities are expected to be put up across the country, Tengco said.
It includes an up to $2 billion casino and golf course in Pampanga province, a $300 million project by Bloomberry Resorts in Cavite province, and a $300 million by Global-Estate Resorts in holiday island Boracay, Pagcor data shows.
While planned casinos in Thailand and Japan are seen as threats, the Philippines is beefing up its status as a preferred destination by privatising state-owned casinos, new gaming projects, and policy reforms, Tengco said.
($1 = 56.6520 Philippine pesos)
(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Alison Williams)