The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp said the decision to put a moratorium on issuing further land-based casino licenses in the country was designed to protect investments made by existing operators.
Speaking at the World Gaming Executive Summit in Barcelona, Pagcor President and Chief Operating Officer Alfredo Lim reiterated that the five license applications that had been received before the suspension was put in place would continue to be processed.
Lim said the market needed time to mature before further new entrants are allowed, but gave no timeline for a potential resumption.
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 ($3.3 billion) in 2017, attracting growing investor interest.
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 license 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.
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 $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.
“Gaming is contributing government revenue tremendously,” he said.