Despite strict regulations, the Philippines gambling market is showing no signs of slowing down. Reports indicate that the casino market here is expected to grow by 9% ($4.1 billion) in 2019. Many are now wondering if the trend will continue for years to come.
Various forms of legal and illegal forms of gambling exist in the Philippines, yet the regulated casino industry is driving the majority of revenue. With many nearby countries banning all forms of gambling, the Philippines is poised to become the next true gambling hotbed of Asia.
Since 1976, nearly all gambling operations have been tightly controlled by the state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, or PAGCOR. This body is responsible for granting licenses and collecting revenue from gambling operations across the country.
Other forms of gambling including the lottery are also regulated by the government.
Online gambling has faced the tightest regulations inside the country. President Rodrigo Duterte has led a crackdown on internet gambling operations, deeming any companies that aren’t licensed by PAGCOR to be illegal inside the country.
Despite this, many Filipinos still make bets through unlicensed gambling sites like Betway Sportsbook.
The massive increase in revenue may be the only thing that changes Duterte’s overall stance on gambling. The country is profiting, and an increase in foreign investment may be on the horizon.
The revenue earned in the Philippines is making other nearby countries take notice. In July of 2018, Japan passed a bill allowing for casinos to be established in three different cities.
Both Cambodia and Vietnam have also begun welcoming foreign investment into the gambling industry. Competition is growing, and the government of the Philippines recognizes it.
PAGCOR Chairperson Andrea Domingo has voiced her concerns over rising competition around Asia. She’s told the media that a meeting with Duterte is in the works. If she cannot convince him to embrace gambling expansion, the market here may soon get overtaken.
It seems likely that the government begins allowing for new casinos to be built. Money talks, and the spike in revenue should warrant some change. Or, perhaps it will take a loss in revenue for the government here to begin pushing for expansion.
According to PAGCOR, there are more than 57 POGO’s (online gambling sites licensed by PAGCOR) that currently operate. Interestingly, China has emerged as one of the biggest customers for these Filipino-based companies.
With gambling being illegal in China, including any land-based casinos, there’s been a massive increase in Chinese citizens playing through sites in the Philippines.
Much like the increase in casino revenue, there’s been a pretty significant increase in money earned through these POGO’s from overseas. What does that mean for the online gaming market moving forward?
Well, it’s doubtful that Duterte will begin throwing licences to every online gaming company that asks for one. The country is doing just fine with the sites they regulate. They may begin pushing the sites here that they regulate to accommodate players in other countries.
The government here has been effective in cracking down on foreign, unlicensed sites. Still, many Filipinos find a way to access them. The way in which Duterte approaches the Philippines gambling market on land may shed light on how he plans to move forward in the online sector.
This is the million-dollar question. The proposed meeting between Chairperson Domingo and Duterte will provide some answers. It’s possible that the Philippines continues to grow even without expansion. It’s also possible that other countries begin to take over thanks to foreign investment.
For now, the numbers indicate a successful upcoming year for PAGCOR. The Philippines gambling market is not slowing down. With the rise in competition, will that trend continue?
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