PAGCOR: Philippines to Attract $6 Billion in Casino Investments, Lower Online License Fees

The Philippines is poised to attract up to $6 billion in investments in its casino sector over the next five years, according to Alejandro Tengco, chairman of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. This surge in investment is expected to enhance the country’s standing as one of Asia’s leading gambling hubs, especially as it faces increasing competition from other regions. The plan includes the launch of at least one new casino-resort biennially, extending beyond the capital city, Manila, to locations such as Clark and Cebu. This expansion, coupled with growth in the electronic gaming segment, is anticipated to drive continued progress in the sector.

“We will have continued growth because of the opening of new casinos and the expansion in the electronic gaming segment,” Tengco said.

The Philippines aims to achieve a total gross gaming revenue of 450 billion to 500 billion pesos by 2027, potentially reaching this goal a year ahead of schedule. In 2023, the nation recorded a total gross gaming revenue of 285 billion pesos, setting a new record. The industry has seen a shift in its customer base, with increased participation from gamblers from Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and the domestic mass market, compensating for the decreased presence of mainland Chinese high-rollers. This change has been beneficial for casino resort operators like Bloomberry Resorts, Universal Entertainment from Japan, and units of Philippine conglomerates SM Investments and Alliance Global Group, which reported strong performances last year.

The country is also preparing for intensified competition in the gaming industry from regional players such as Japan, which has recently approved its first casino, and Thailand, which is contemplating the legalization of casinos. Tengco highlighted the importance of using the next five to six years to strengthen and establish the Philippines’ casino sector before these new competitors begin operations. “We have about five to six years to fortify and solidify so when they open, we are mature already,” he said.

Lower License Fees for Online Casinos

Furthermore, Tengco highlighted a strategic adjustment within the Philippines’ online and on-site betting sectors, as PAGCOR plans to lower the license fees starting April 1. The adjustment will see the fees reduced to an average rate of 35 percent of revenue, marking a 5 percent decrease from the current rates. This announcement was made during the ASEAN Gaming Summit held in Manila.

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By setting the license fees at 35 percent next month, the chairman of PAGCOR aims to align with international standards and stimulate a healthier regulatory environment. Tengco reflected on the initial state of license fees, which exceeded 50 percent when he took office in the latter part of 2022. “When I assumed office in the second half of 2022, the prevailing licence fees then were over 50 percent,” he said. “We have gradually lowered them so that by April our rates would be at par with global industry standards which should encourage even those who are now operating illegally to consider securing licences, which in turn should further boost our licensing and regulatory revenues,” Tengco added.

This initiative is expected to enhance the country’s licensing and regulatory income. Recently, 188bet relocated its operations back to the Philippines, which Tengco hailed as a major confidence boost for PAGCOR’s policies.

Additionally, Tengco mentioned that digital gaming platforms, including e-casinos, e-bingo, and online sports betting, are anticipated to continue as the fastest expanding sector within the Philippine gaming landscape. Despite this growth, he noted that the conventional casino operations would maintain their dominance in the industry.

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