MANILA — The Philippine gaming industry’s revenue is expected to recover to its pre-pandemic position by 2026 or even overtake this level, as player confidence slowly returns to the sector, a senior regulatory official said on Tuesday.
“Definitely there will be no more lockdowns but bringing back the confidence of players is hard,” Daniel Cecilio, licensing and regulatory group chief of state-run regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp, told Reuters.
The Southeast Asian country’s gross gaming revenues (GGR), the amount players wager minus winnings, hit a record 256 billion pesos ($4.60 billion) in 2019, but casino operations were then halted by COVID-19 lockdowns, slashing revenue to around 100 billion in 2020.
Revenue picked up to 113 billion pesos in 2021 and 39 billion pesos in the first quarter of 2022, data from the gaming regulator showed.
By 2026, GGR might reach 256 billion pesos or better, with land-based casinos seen contributing 146 billion pesos, Cecilio said.
The regulator’s projection mirrors the recovery path of neighbouring gambling hubs like Singapore and Macau, which is reeling from Beijing’s strict zero-COVID strategy.
The freewheeling Philippine gaming industry has attracted foreign and domestic companies to set up integrated casino-resorts, creating tens of thousands of jobs in the past decade.
In coming years, the sector’s recovery would be driven by pent-up demand and a return of confidence among domestic and foreign gamblers, Cecilio said.
There are 51 land-based casinos in the Philippines, including 38 operated by the gaming regulator and the rest privately owned, attracting high rollers from countries like China, Japan and South Korea.
Newport World Resorts, which owns the country’s first integrated casino-resort, expects its operations to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2023, faster than the broader industry.
“We are expanding our gaming areas to absorb junket groups that are coming,” Sandy Amida, senior director for gaming operations at Newport World Resorts in Manila, told Reuters.
($1 = 55.67 Philippine pesos)
—Reporting by Neil Jerome MoralesEditing by Ed Davies