Is the Philippines Ready to Become Asia’s Casino Capital?

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There are many countries in Asia that offer casino style gambling, but one country is quickly setting themselves apart, quite possibly becoming Asia’s Casino capital. You would expect this to be Macau, which has had casinos for quite some time. The Chinese owned region has been a hotbed for patrons looking to find outstanding opportunities to gamble on their favorite tables or gaming machines, but its growth is slowing down.

The Philippines – The future star for casino gambling in Asia

The Philippines offers some of the best land-based casinos in Asia. The great facilities and amazing sites in Manila and Cebu are attracting casino lovers from the Southeast Asian region, but according to there are many PAGCOR approved casino websites that have seen significant increase in the number of internet gamblers.

The casino industry in the Philippines has seen an exponential growth over the last decade. Deals with major game manufacturers and the fact that some of the best entertainers in the region frequently perform at these casinos is helping to turn this into the destination country for those looking for an amazing night, weekend, or even summer of gambling.

One such agreement occurred this last February, when Electronic Gaming Equipment (EGE) came to an agreement with the JPark Palace Casino to offer their machines. This is just one of many recent lease agreements between game manufacturers and casinos within the country, demonstrating that this is a powerful location.

PAGCOR Making the Right Moves

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, also known as PAGCOR, is a government owned and controlled corporation that was established back in 1869. Its purpose was to find sources of revenue for the country, and one of those ways has been through the licensing and operations of casinos. This first began in 1977 when a floating casino was established in Manila Bay, but it burned down just two years later.

Four years later, a series of small operations came into existence. By 2007, PAGCOR had issued licenses to several privately owned casinos and bingo parlors, and e-games cafés also came into existence. This industry has grown exponentially ever since, as there are over 10 large-scale casinos that are currently in operation in the country.

Just as a comparison, there are currently 10 large-scale casinos in Macau, the Philippines primary rival within the region.

Becoming the Place to Go in China

While China controls the Macau region, recently it has been found that many people within the country are traveling to the Philippines to gamble. Gambling is illegal in most of China, and many are opting to visit the Philippines to partake in their favorite card game, slot machines, or other gambling activity.

In fact, the facilities have become so popular with Chinese citizens that many are even using the online casinos to play their favorite games. While it is illegal for them to gamble while inside mainland China, a recent article found that a large number of Chinese citizens are using the online option anyway, bringing in $4.1 billion in revenue to the Philippines. That is a $1 billion increase from just three years ago.

Not Without Bringing Troubles

While these casino operations have generated a significant amount of revenue for the country, they have also brought a large amount of trouble. Earlier this year, the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) industry has been rocked by several scandals, many of which were involving Chinese citizens.

It was alleged that human trafficking of women from neighboring countries was becoming rampant. There were instances of Chinese citizens illegally being smuggled into the country to work or use the facilities, and allegations of rape and murder led many lawmakers within the Philippines to call for the shutdown of the entire operation.

This occurred in March, when the PAGCOR ordered that all POGOs cease operations immediately. It was not expected that this order was going to be followed by all, but the recent Covid-19 pandemic took care of that problem for the government.

“Our situation right now is different,” said PAGCOR Chairman Andrea Domingo. “While revenue generation is important in our operations, the health and well-being being of every Filipino is our immediate priority. By practicing the health protocols recommended by our Health Department, we can all help curb, if not stop the spread of COVID-19.”

The Problem Could Only Get Worse

To be honest, no one is really sure what things are going to look like in the Philippines, or even in Asia for that matter, once Covid-19 is finally under control. A lot of businesses, even government run ones may find it difficult to reopen.

The one major advantage that the Philippine operations has over privately-owned operations is that they have the full backing of the government. This should help these facilities to get back up and running once it is permitted.

That may not be true in every country in the region. This could very likely not only help the Philippines to become one of the most important gambling centers in Asia but could make it the largest of all. At the same time online gambling is on the rise and that could prove to take center stage, if the Covid-19 crisis continues in the age where the Filipino government is pushing for growth in this sector.