Any introduction of a casino entry fee in the Philippines – as proposed by a lawmaker there – would have a significant negative impact on mass-market gambling, said the head of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), Andrea Domingo.
A bill was submitted recently by Representative Rodolfo Albano, a member of the Philippine House of Representatives, that sought to impose an entry fee of PHP3000 (US$61) in all casinos and similar gaming establishments in the country.
“If the PHP3,000 would be imposed as an entrance fee, it would wipe out the whole mass market,” Ms Domingo was quoted as saying on Wednesday by local media outlets.
“It will have a negative effect, we hope Congress would be listening to all those affected,” she reportedly added.
According to the draft bill – as cited by local newspapers – the entry levy is intended to ensure that the “person entering any and all casinos [in the Philippines] has the financial resources to engage in any form of gambling”. Mr Albano had said that the bill is also intended to counter gambling addiction in the country.
Measures to restrict casino access in the Philippines were revived following the June 2 deadly attack on the Resorts World Manila casino venue in the Philippine capital. The attacker – who also died in the incident – has been described in local media as a problem gambler with heavy debts.
Investment banking group Morgan Stanley said in a note last week that an entry levy, if implemented, could hurt Philippine casino revenue because the entry fee “may deter grind mass and family customers”. “Grind mass” was a reference to the lower end of the mass market.
“Filipino gamblers view gambling more as an entertainment compared to Chinese gamblers in Macau,” said Morgan Stanley analysts Alex Poon and Praveen Choudhary.
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Lionel Leong Vai Tac
Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance