Covid-19 Effects On Gambling In The Philippines And What Casinos Are Doing About It

Image by Ian Romie Ona
Article by : Helen Oct 7, 2020

Many countries across Asia offer casino-style gambling. Surprisingly, one country is quickly setting itself apart from the rest and is poised to become Asia’s casino capital. Singapore or Macau may quickly come to mind since they have been in the scene for quite some time now.

In this case, it’s neither of the two countries. Our attention is on the Philippines, which features some of the best land-based casinos Asia has to offer. Manila and Cebu are home to some of the finest casinos which attract casino patrons from across South Asia and beyond.

Manilla: Asia’s Gambling Capital?

The city is home to renowned gambling facilities, including New Coast Hotel Manila. Additionally, it’s home to the infamous City of Dreams Manilla luxury, a fully integrated casino complex located in Manila’s Entertainment City strip.

With about 1,200 gaming machines and 300 table games, Solaire Resort and Casino, also in Manila, hosts most game visitors. Not only that, the five-star resort-casino features multiple gaming kiosks featuring money wheels, roulette wheels, and a couple of traditional table games.

Another Manila’s attraction is the Hyatt Regency Casino Filipino. You get to enjoy excellent shopping facilities and dine at its wide selection of restaurants. The hotel has set aside three floors for gambling lovers, with designated smoking areas, VIP rooms, and junkets.

Turbulent Times

The annual gambling revenue in the Philippines has steadily increased since 2016. But with the onset of Covid-19, the industry has taken a significant hit. In fact, between the first and second quarters of 2020, revenue from this industry has dropped by over 95 percent.

A recent Q2 financial report by the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) paints a dull picture. With a gross revenue of $15.8 million, down from $ 48.4 Billion for the second-quarter ending on June 20th, representing a loss of 95.4%.

Gambling operators in the country have been shut down since March 15th after President Rodrigo Duterte directed countrywide lockdown measures across the Philippines. As the Philippines continues to grapple with the pandemic, most Casinos may have suffered irreparable damages. A good example is Hong-Kong listed International Entertainment Corporation (IEC).

Recently, a portion of Manila casinos has been allowed to resume operations, although at 30% capacity.

International Entertainment Corp

With the issuing of a provisional license by PAGCOR, IEC has moved closer to its desired goal of converting an existing hotel, the New Coast Hotel Manila, located in the heart of Malate business district, into an integrated resort casino.

The board is pleased to announce that on September 18th, 2020, MSPI received a letter from PAGCOR, informing that they- PAGCOR- has conditionally approved the issuance of the provisional license.

Dr. Choi Fai Stanley, IEC Chairman

Through setting up and operating a casino and integrating a resort, the company hopes to improve and expand the existing hotel premises, services, and facilities.

IEC currently leases equipment to PAGCOR. Similarly, it holds the Asian rights for several live poker events, including those running under the “PokerStars,” a subsidiary brand of “The Stars Group.” The Stars Group is also an incorporated branch of the online gaming and sports betting giant, Flutter Entertainment.

The Hong-Kong-based behemoth, IEC, recently sold-off their controlling stake in English Championship football club, Wigan Athletic, netting approximately $22 Million from the deal.

Most Philippine-based casinos may never return to their pre-COVID-19 levels. This explains why they have taken on the challenge to develop ingenious ways of increasing profits, thereby adapting to the current business climate.

Once everything goes back to normal, companies such as IEC are poised to come out of this calamity with a larger market’s portion than before.


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