Lim: “Gaming is contributing government revenue tremendously”
Speaking at the World Gaming Executive Summit in Barcelona, Alfredo Lim, PAGCOR President and Chief Operating Officer, said on Wed 03 session that the five license applications that had been received before the suspension was put in place would continue to be processed.
The five licenses still moving ahead are a plan for a casino in Clark from Udenna Corp; a property in Masbate, southern Luzon from Century Golden, which is backed by Chinese investors; a resort planned by Prime Asset Ventures in Cavite, also on Luzon; a resort in Davao from EDC Ventures and a licence issued to Galaxy Entertainment and its local partner Leisure and Resorts World Corp. The latter group initially planned an IR on Boracay, though the island has subsequently been closed to tourism by Duterte to repair damage to the environment.
Later in the day in Manila, president Duterte reiterated that he will not allow gambling to take root on Boracay island, adding that he does not have any financial interest in the rehabilitation of the island amid allegations that business owners would benefit after the six-month clean-up: “We don’t have any interest there… They weave a lot of tales about giving it to big business. I will not allow gambling. I will not even give it to big business.”
Lim confirmed that the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp’s decision to put a moratorium on issuing further land-based casino licenses in the country was designed to protect investments made by existing operators, adding, “the market needs time to mature before further new entrants are allowed,” but gave no timeline for a potential resumption.
Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte halted new casinos projects in January amidst concerns of oversupply. The Philippines is one of Asia’s fastest growing markets, with gross gambling revenue climbing almost 12 percent to P176.5 billion (US$3.3 billion) in 2017, attracting growing investor interest.
For the online industry, Pagcor still expects strong growth from the issue of new Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator license, known as POGO. Pagcor collected about US$74 million in revenue from POGOs last year and Lim said that has “increased dramatically,” creating demand for real estates as well as other jobs and services in the capital Manila.