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Philippines to Replace Singapore as Second-Largest Casino Market: PAGCOR Boss

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The Philippines stands poised to emerge as a formidable contender in the Asian gambling space, potentially surpassing Singapore as the region's second-largest gambling hub after Macau. That's the viewpoint of Alejandro Tengco, the chairman and CEO of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR), citing the imminent opening of new integrated resorts and an ambitious pipeline of casino projects.

PAGCOR Optimistic About Philippine Gambling Market

Tengco's remarks, made during an interview at PAGCOR's office, underscore the Philippines' strategic initiatives to bolster its gambling industry and capitalize on burgeoning opportunities. He believes the Philippines can take over the second spot from Singapore as soon as next year.

Related: Philippines Gaming Revenue to Double by 2028, Asserts PAGCOR Boss

Billionaire entrepreneur Enrique Razon's Bloombery Resorts Corp. is slated to unveil a new integrated resort in Manila later this year. This will complement the burgeoning landscape of gaming establishments in the region.

Moreover, PAGCOR envisions the sale of its state-run casinos by early 2026, signaling a pivotal transition towards regulatory-focused operations. Tengco's assertion that the Philippines could eclipse Singapore as a gambling powerhouse underscores the country's bullish outlook and the transformative potential of its burgeoning gambling sector.

The Philippines anticipates a surge in gross gaming revenue, with projections reaching a record high of PHP336 billion (US$6.1 billion) this year. This would be a notable increase from the previous year's PHP285 billion (US$5.14 billion).

Tengco juxtaposes this with Singapore's estimated annual gross gaming revenue (GGR) of approximately $6 billion. This hints at the Philippines' growing competitiveness within the regional gambling landscape.

Online Gambling Expansion Faces Challenges

Furthermore, the Philippines is spearheading the expansion of its online casino industry, a pivotal contributor to the country's GGR. With online casinos accounting for a fifth of the total revenue last year, PAGCOR is strategically leveraging this segment to augment the revenue stream of its Casino Filipino brand, comprising primarily small-scale casino outlets.

However, the burgeoning online gambling sector has elicited concerns and encountered pushback from lawmakers, stemming from issues surrounding the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) segment. Instances of criminal activity, including fraud and human trafficking, have underscored the need for stringent regulatory measures to mitigate associated risks and safeguard societal welfare.

In addition to calls for a complete online gambling ban, Senator Robin Padilla has introduced Senate Bill 2602, aiming to curb the advertising of online gambling and mitigate its societal impact, particularly among the youth. The proposed legislation imposes stringent penalties, including imprisonment and hefty fines, on individuals found publishing gambling-related content or profiting from its promotion.

That bill was introduced this week and is only now beginning to make its rounds. It will possibly be months before it gains any real traction.

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