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Reports THE PHILIPPINES MARKET


President Rodrigo Duterte hates gambling. And drug dealers. Gambling, however, brings in big revenues for the Philippines, so he isn’t systematically killing that particular industry off. Te Philippine gaming market is fairly stable and one of the most robust in Asia. In 2019, gaming revenues generated or overseen by the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) hit P256.4bn with the highest amount of P181.3bn coming from privately licensed casinos primarily in Entertainment City.


But it is a fragile balance. Te sector is subject to licensing approval from PAGCOR, which being government run, depends on the political


P58 NEWSWIRE / INTERACTIVE / MARKET DATA


situation. Te casinos are also heavily reliant on VIP customers coming mostly from China, Korea, Singapore, Tailand and Malaysia and therefore are vulnerable to economic downturns, smoking bans, tax changes and, of course, global pandemics.


Duterte’s views and policies are also incredibly contradictory and often knee-jerk reactions to issues, causing some confusion in the gambling industry where revenues have quadrupled during his first three years in office.


So whilst he abruptly shut down thousands of local lottery operations last year, on the other hand he has refused to adhere to pressure from


Beijing to shut down the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs).


Likewise when Duterte took office he directed PAGCOR to boost tourism and turn the nation into a gambling and entertainment hub, then did a heel turn not long after, terminating developments planned for Entertainment City and withdrawing casino plans on Boracay island. He’s unpredictable and arbitrary. His extreme drug war and pro-death penalty proposals are causing huge concerns in the US and EU governments.


Te Philippines House of Representatives has recently approved a bill to re-introduce the


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