The head of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, or Pagcor, says 2018 gross gaming revenue (GGR) in the casino business in the Philippines grew to about PHP200 billion (US$3.79 billion), 13 percent more than the year before.
For the whole of 2017, the country’s gaming industry recorded aggregate GGR of PHP152.55 billion, an increase of 15 percent in year-on year terms.
In comments to the Reuters news agency published on Tuesday, Pagcor chairman Andrea Domingo said the forecast for 2019 casino GGR was for 8.5-percent growth, to PHP217 billion. That would be another record for Philippine GGR.
Last month Ms Domingo predicted Pagcor’s own 2018 revenue from the gaming sector would be more than PHP100 billion.
Pagcor is the gaming regulator in the Philippines and also runs a chain of public-sector casinos there. Other operators of private-sector casinos in the Philippines include subsidiaries of Macau licensee Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd and of Japan’s Universal Entertainment Corp.
The nine private operators of casinos in the Philippines have a combined 1,580 gaming tables and 9,895 electronic gaming machines, government data indicate. Pagcor has casinos contributing an aggregate of 470 tables and 9,679 gaming machines to the national market.
The report quoted Ms Domingo as saying: “All the integrated casino resorts are doing very well”.
Regarding increased competition regionally, which includes new large-scale casino facilities in countries including Cambodia, Vietnam and – eventually – Japan, Ms Domingo said the local operators “are threatened”. But she added, referring the appeal of the Philippine market: “If you have critical mass and a safe environment, gamblers will still be there”.
The Pagcor boss said she would tell the Philippine head of state President Rodrigo Duterte about the challenges the gaming industry faces and how it contributes to good causes. Mr Duterte has expressed some concern about the proliferation of gambling outlets in the country, and of online-delivered gambling services in particular.
Last year, Pagcor said no new approvals would be granted for land-based casinos with effect from February.
In late August, in an unrelated matter, an administration spokesman said Mr Duterte would use executive powers to cancel a land lease for a US$1.5-billion project by Landing International Development Ltd to build a casino resort in Manila.
Mr Duterte’s office has also indicated a proposed US$500-million project for the holiday island of Boracay – by Macau licensee Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd and a local partner – would not be welcome.
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