Philippine Gaming Revenue Could Set New Record This Year

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The Philippines' casino industry is on the brink of achieving unprecedented heights in gross gaming revenues (GGR). Forecasts are soaring, leading to predictions of an all-time high of $5.2 billion for 2023.

Huge Growth Ahead

The projections could be propelled by a record-setting December quarter, as per consultancy GCG Gaming Advisory Services. A detailed update shared on social media, subsequent to PAGCOR's release of 3Q23 industry data, reveals that the industry-wide GGR of $1.24 billion displayed minimal growth from the previous year's $1.19 billion. However, expectations are high that the record GGR of $1.26 billion attained in the fourth quarter of 2019, prior to COVID-19, will likely be surpassed in the current quarter.

Related: Philippine Gambling Revenue Up 15% Year on Year

This would be attributed to the increased growth in South Korean visitation and the gradual return of Chinese tourists. This surge in activity is anticipated to push nationwide GGR to an estimated range of up to $5.2 billion, surpassing 2019 figures by at least 5%.

The growth is notably attributed to the ascent of the Clark Freeport Zone, where GGR has escalated to 19% of Manila's Entertainment City, a significant jump from the 7% reported in 2019. In Manila, Q3 GGR witnessed a 5.7% dip compared to Q1, primarily due to the market's local dominance and the absence of Chinese junket play.

Meanwhile, in Cebu, 3Q23 GGR is projected to range between $20 million and $30 million, with a full-year GGR estimate of $40 million to $50 million. GCG remains optimistic, foreseeing a doubling of the Philippines' GGR to $10 billion by 2027.

Getting Off the Grey List

Simultaneously, while addressing concerns related to gambling, the Philippine Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) is diligently executing Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) regulations. This action is prompted by the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) recent recommendations to the Philippines, urging the country to rectify significant vulnerabilities in AML measures, with specific emphasis on gambling activities within the casino industry.

The Philippines was granted an additional 12 months by the global financial regulator last year, extending the deadline until January 2024, to rectify its weaknesses and be taken off the grey list. A reply published by the AMLC recently emphasizes the unwavering dedication of the agency in enhancing the efficiency of its money laundering procedures and AML/CFT protocols.

In order to eliminate the Philippines' presence on the FATF grey list, the government has outlined a range of strategies. These include the enforcement of AML/CFT measures to address gambling-related risks, the adoption of a risk-based approach to promoting non-financial businesses and services, facilitating law enforcement's access to crucial information, conducting thorough research and intensifying efforts to combat extortion funds. Additionally, a high priority is placed on identifying, investigating and prosecuting cases of terrorist financing.

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