- Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte aims to grow casino revenues
- Top companies and billionnaires plot move in lucrative south-east Asia market
The future of traditional casinos and online gambling in the Philippines looked uncertain last year as Rodrigo Duterte rose to presidential power on an anti-drug, anti-corruption and anti-gambling ticket. But a new horizon could be dawning.
Gaming in the country looked as unpredictable as the leader himself as he openly declared betting and gambling a ‘menace’ to the social structure, but things could be changing for the better thanks to the international investment potential being realized in recent months.
Major casino companies from the United States – such as Wynn Resorts, MGM and Las Vegas Sands – have been holding back on investment in places such as the Philippines, Japan and China, unsure of the changing political views which are less than clear. However, it has since emerged that Duterte is ambitious to bring in an expected $7 billion in revenue over the next four years by competing with neighbouring countries such as Singapore and Macau, whose gambling regulations are less stringent.
Major players see potential
Macau generates approximately one-tenth of the revenue Singapore does from gaming outlets and casinos, but the Philippines lags behind further still at only $3 billion per annum. The new relaxing of laws in the country could see the revenue double to over $7 billion, which is great news for operators.
Many of the existing casinos in the country are located in Manila, but further expansion could see cities like Quezon City, Davao, Budta and Cebu ripe for development. One business owner in particular, Japanese slot game mogul Kazuo Okada, would love to see the Philippines become the next Hawaii in terms of becoming a popular tourist destination for gambling-friendly countries such as Australia and Russia. He is already planning three more casinos in the next five years which will add an additional $2 billion in revenue.
Whoever does manage to crack the Asian market – the Philippines in particular – will be banking on a huge windfall, that is if they can manoeuvre their way around the loose and sometimes non-existent regulations in many of these countries.
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