Philippine regulator-come-operator, Pagcor has clarified that
a moratorium on further land-based casino licences in the country was intended to protect investments made by existing operators.
Nevertheless, Pagcor’s president and COO, Alfredo Lim recently confirmed that five licence applications which had been received prior to the suspension would still be processed.
These licences are for a casino development in the Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone by Udenna Corp; a property in Masbate by Century Golden; a planned resort in Cavite by Prime Asset Ventures; a resort in Davao from EDC Ven- tures; and an integrated resort development on Boracay by Galaxy Enter- tainment and its local partner Leisure and Resorts World Corp.
However Galaxy’s $500m IR project was suspended in April, following a government decision to close Boracay to tourists for six-months
to facilitate an environ- mental clean-up, and it remains unclear whether the project will move for- ward either on the island or at an alternate location.
While the Philippines is one of the fastest growing markets in Asia, with GGR rising almost 12 per- cent to PHP176.5bn ($3.3bn) in 2017, in January, president Rodrigo Duterte took the decision to halt any new casinos projects citing concerns regarding over-saturation.
“The reason for this is to provide an opportunity for the foreign and domestic casino operators to ramp up operations with lower risk of cannibalisation, which we have already seen at Entertainment City versus Resorts World Manila,” said Bloomberg Intelligence gaming analyst Margaret Huang, speaking in June.
“The Philippines’ gaming market is highly tilted to the domestic market and with that there is only so much demand that can be tapped before it reaches saturation.”