Source: Rody Duterte via Facebook
Manila, Philippines – President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte has placed restrictions on the creation of new casinos in the country, as it looks to avoid oversaturation in the gambling market. The nation has become a popular tourist destination for gamblers in recent years, and this is big news for casino owners.
The moratorium was announced last month in a statement from Herminio Harry L. Roque, Jr., one of the president’s spokespeople, saying that Duterte had decided to “temporarily stop putting up casinos”. The aim, he claimed, is to observe existing casino’s inclusion in Entertainment City and then assess whether there is “a need to put up new casinos”.
The chair of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR), Andrea Domingo, discussed further that the president told her to “freeze the entry of new casinos”, with the idea of letting “the market mature”. The PAGCOR will still look at applications made prior to the moratorium being demanded by Duterte on January 13, but will no longer accept any application from after the cut-off point.
The announcement comes as something of a shock, as the Filipino casino industry has boomed in recent years. PAGCOR announced an impressive 7.6% rise in revenues for 2017 and a full-year income of ?57.34 billion, which represented a strong 25% improvement on their budget predictions for the year.
All this looks set to increase the already-soaring popularity of internet-based casinos, as the number of brick-and-mortar establishments in the country remains static. Worldwide, internet gambling numbers are predicted to increase to $59 billion by 2020, and online casino is a large part of this industry. Without the restrictions placed on physical casinos, these companies can offer an unparalleled range of games, including movie-themed slots, like Jurassic Park, and traditional table games. This only serves to strengthen their appeal to gamblers faced with a restricted casino market.
As it stands, a handful of casinos are ready to be built in Parañaque City, with four licenses currently being processed. Three of the four proposed casinos have already been built and are trading — Solaire Resort and Casino, City of Dreams Manila and Okada Manila – so the industry still has some scope to grow, in the short term. Casinos are also planned in locations throughout the country, in Cebu and on Boracay Island, allowing for temporary expansion.
While it remains to be seen whether the restrictions on new casinos will continue to be implemented, the president’s decision looks set to curb an impressive rise in the industry. However, should he reverse his decision, the nation may see a second boom in popularity with gamblers.