The Philippine’s gaming industry showed its resilience during the pandemic shutdowns, highlighted Daniel Cecilio General Manager of Philippines gaming regulator PAGCOR at the ASEAN Gaming Summit.

“At the height of the pandemic in 2020, the Philippine gaming industry was not spared, as it saw a significant all-time decline in gross gaming revenues. And, just as the Philippines was slowly recovering from the strict community quarantine restrictions, the omicron variant caused a huge surge in COVID cases in the first quarter of 2022 – again filling up hospitals and disrupting businesses,” noted the GM during a keynote at the Summit in Manila. 

During the year, the operator and regulator also underwent a management shift, as the new cabinet swore in a new board, led by businessman Alejandro H Tengco, prompting a raft of changes, even as the COVID recovery continued to be a concern, with Cecilio noting that: “amidst all these challenges, the Philippine gaming sector remained resilient”. 

In fact, in 2022, total industry GGR was at PHP214 billion of pesos ($4.3 billion), a 189 percent increase compared to the PHP113 billion ($2.3 billion) registered in 2021. This was also 84 percent of 2019’s pre-pandemic GGR level of PHP256 billion ($5.1 billion), noted the official.

In his keynote speech on the second day of the ASEAN Gaming Summit, Daniel Cecilio also said that he believes that “despite all the challenges that we are facing, the gaming sector can still blaze a trail and create opportunities”.

Regarding PAGCOR’s modernization path, the official shared that “as both the Philippines and the global gaming market continue to get back on their feet, we are hopeful that this year is a time for bouncing back; a time to re-evaluate our strengths, areas for improvement, and our ability to continuously adapt to the changing needs of our times”.

Alejandro Tengco, PAGCOR Chairman shared with the ASEAN Gaming Summit’s participants his vision for PAGCOR on Tuesday, and Daniel said that the regulatory group is ready to fully support that vision. The group has already mapped out a number of changes moving forward, including updates to its Suppliers Regulatory Manual. “One of the highlights of which is the provision for the establishment of Showrooms for suppliers to showcase their latest products,” notes Cecilio.

Currently, PAGCOR is also working on upgrading its IT systems. “This one is a priority project, as PAGCOR cannot possibly improve its processes without any enhancement in the area of Information Technology,” notes the GM. The regulator is also “in the process of crafting the regulatory framework for online Poker operations” and “in the final stages of creating the Junket Licensing Regulatory Manual”.

Due to a need to shift its business models and strategies, Ceclio said that PAGCOR will continue to ensure that regulatory policies, anti-money laundering laws, and responsible gaming practices are strictly observed.