The Philippines is working on getting rid of COVID-19 this year, and still has some difficulty. As a result, the country’s gaming industry will need at least four more years to return to where it was before the pandemic began.
The Solaire Casino in the Philippines at night. The country’s gaming industry is recovering from COVID-19, but will need a few more years to get back on its feet. (Image: Getty Images)
At the end of last year, casinos in the Philippines began to reemerge from their government-ordered hibernation. However, just a couple of weeks later, they once again faced closure, as people ignored health standards.
Now, with most things back to normal in the country, the gaming industry can start rebuilding. Patience is going to be paramount, though, according to Daniel Cecilio of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR).
Recovery A Long Way Off
Cecilio, PAGCOR’s licensing and regulatory group chief, told Reuters on Tuesday that the Philippines needs another four years for its gaming industry to completely rebound. That, of course, is contingent upon no more pandemics.
In 2019, gross gaming revenue (GGR) in the Philippines was $4.6 billion. However, the following year, the figure dropped to around $1.80 billion.
Last year delivered a slight uptick, with GGR reaching $2.04 billion. Subsequently, for the first quarter of this year, the figure closed at $703.56 million. If the Philippines can continue or improve that amount, it could rebound to about $3 billion by the end of the year.
Cecilio believes that the country’s gaming industry will see steady growth over the next few years. Then, in 2026, GGR for the country’s entire gaming industry might reach $4.61 billion. Of that amount, he predicts that land-based casinos will contribute $2.63 billion.
Currently, there are 51 casinos in the country. Of these, PAGCOR operates 38, with the others belonging to private companies. In addition, new investments in gaming properties are coming from domestic and international sources, which will fuel expansion over the next few years.
PAGCOR Continues Rebuilding Communities
Despite its significant drop in revenue, PAGCOR has continued to contribute financially to the government and to various communities. One of its projects includes the development of multi-purpose evacuation centers across the country.
Typhoons and volcanoes are just two of the natural disasters the Philippines faces, and which became the catalyst for PAGCOR’s projects. A few months ago, it announced the construction of a center in Lemery in Batangas, designed to provide housing for families who are still recovering from the eruption of the Taal Volcano in 2020.
As that project continues, PAGCOR has inaugurated the first evacuation center it built. It’s in Barangay San Gregorio in the province of Laguna, and offers housing, kitchens, storage facilities, and other options.
The project cost around $900,000 to construct, and is just one of the centers PAGCOR wants to build in 76 locations across the Philippines. By the time it’s done, it will have spent around $63 million on all of them.
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