PAGCOR’s Chairman is aiming to double the nation’s gross gaming revenue by 2028, leveraging new products and an increase in tourism arrivals, including punters from China.
In statements to Reuters, Alejandro H. Tengco noted that GGR this year is expected to reach a record high of PHP450-500 billion ($7.94-8.82 billion) within five years, following a 10 percent yearly increase this year.
This is opposed to the PHP256 billion ($4.52 billion) registered in 2019, prior to the pandemic and the PHP214 billion ($3.77 billion) reported in 2022.
Tengco lauds the “strong performance” by the industry, which has been “supported by a stable of local players”.
However, the PAGCOR chairman is turning his sights further to the international market, “due to improving foreign travel guidelines”.
Chinese outbound tourism to the Philippines has been slow to resume, hampered at the beginning of the year by ongoing COVID restrictions in China and a slow ramp-up of flights.
Back in March, analysts predicted a return of Chinese tourism spending in the nation to reach somewhere between $6 billion and $8 billion this year, drawing closer to the $9.8 billion registered in 2019 and doubling the $4 billion seen in 2022. During last year Chinese tourism reached just 7.2 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
Chinese tourists are the second-largest tourism market for the Philippines, totaling 1.7 million in 2019, nearly a quarter of all arrivals.
While the nation has seen strong growth by capitalizing on its domestic market while waiting out the travel restrictions posed by its primary Asian source markets, the return of Chinese punters bodes well for properties aimed more at the premium mass segment.
Current plans for four new casino properties in the capital, alongside six other gaming facilities outside Manila, mean that operators will be fighting to get their piece of the pie, attempting to lure punters away from the more-convenient Macau.
The world gaming hub’s effective shuttering of junkets bodes well in this sense for the Philippines, as gaming promoters have shifted their focus outside in order to achieve better margins and be subject to less scrutiny.
And gaming operators are retooling their gaming areas accordingly, to cater for the expected influx of Chinese VIPs, with numerous properties looking beyond the local market and Korean punters which have so far been supplying the bulk of their play.
Carriers, such as Philippine Airlines – the largest in the nation, are inking new agreements with Chinese carriers to increase visitation to the nation aiming to capitalize off the pent-up demand and be seen as the premier non-China destination for gaming.
While regional competition does exist, and the lure of new gaming hubs such as Osaka and Thailand (albeit in a longer time frame) could detract from the Philippines’ gaming growth, Tengco is resolute that the attractions in the Philippines will continue to draw in new punters – aided by the new properties coming online in the next years.