2023’s GGR surpassed pre-pandemic levels, with the new revenue record 11.2% higher than the previous high set back in 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic hit the Philippines hard, with GGR falling to an all-time low of ₱99bn during the outbreak.
Pagcor believes 2023’s success sets the Philippines up to hit the 2024 GGR projection of ₱336bn. This is largely down to the planned opening of a number of new integrated resorts. The existing integrated resorts already contribute ₱207bn to the Philippines’ revenue.
Alejandro Tengco, Pagcor chairman and chief executive, said: “Our 2023 results exceeded even our most optimistic projections and it proves beyond doubt that the Philippine gaming industry has fully recovered and is now poised for sustained growth in the medium- to long-term.
“Last year’s accomplishment is solid proof of the local gaming industry’s adaptability and resilience which translates to Pagcor’s enhanced ability to fulfil our nation-building mandates.”
Philippines expected to overtake Singapore
With the most dynamic gaming market in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, the Philippines will likely overtake Singapore very soon in terms of GGR.
The Philippines is enjoying expansion in its gaming industry. Bloomberry is adding Solaire North in Quezon City, to be followed with a resort to the south in Cavite, bracketing Metro Manila. NuStar in Cebu City opened lodging and gaming in 2022, with two more hotels on the way.
The Philippines is the only ASEAN country to allow citizens to enjoy casino gaming without entry restrictions, with local players a big part in its growth. Korean and Japanese travellers are another additional market.
The Philippines also has the only regulated online market in the entirety of Asia. While the Philippines offshore gaming operator (POGO) dominates the spotlight, recent comments in the industry suggest that expanded online domestic play is imminent.
The ASEAN region as a whole expects to shine in the coming years. Boasting a total population of over 660 million, the ASEAN countries have a collective GDP in excess of US$3.3tn (£2.6tn/€3tn), the fifth largest in the world. The bloc’s economies also grew 5.2% in 2022.
In a recent interview with iGB, industry veteran Daniel Cheng said: “The ASEAN bloc will overtake Japan within this decade and become smaller in economic power than only the US, China and the European Union.”
Pagcor’s modernisation programme
In November, Tengco revealed Pagcor was launching a modernisation programme to increase revenue.
The programme included plans to roll out 3,000 new slot machines. An agreement is in place with a supplier for a revenue-sharing scheme for the slots. According to Tengco, this would generate an additional ₱18bn in revenue in the next five years.
Pagcor also plans to modernise its table games to help attract new players and create more revenue.
Pagcor is preparing to launch a new online platform, too. In July 2023, Pagcor stated it would enter the online gambling market by launching Casinofilipino.com. This is due to go live in Q1 of 2024.
Pagcor switching to regulatory role
Pagcor’s announcement of intended growth came after the agency suggested it would take a step back from gambling operations, instead moving into a purely regulatory role.
Set to lead to the privatisation of its gambling operations, Pagcor expects the move to help “level the playing field” and boost future growth for other operators. Tengco stated that Pagcor hopes to complete the transition to only being a regulator by 2025.
Tengco added that the switch to a purely regulatory role could impact staff. He stopped short of discussing job losses, instead saying plans are being made to avoid displacement, in particular at the casinos that will be privatised.
Pagcor currently operates the Casino Filipino chain of casinos, with eight properties active across the country.