Each gaming market has its own pull. Vegas’ comes from the entertainment offer, versus Macau where VIP is its reason for being. Vegas is fueled by a strong domestic market and supplemented by international visitation, Macau from Mainland China. People go to Vegas for the entertainment, gaming included; Singapore attracts the high spending international frequent traveller; visitors to Macau’s casinos stay at the tables, unmoving, still showing a lack of interest for whatever else might be on offer. Diversification of the Macau offer has proven hard to crack.
Each market moulds itself on the the customer base it caters to and the Philippines has all the elements to follow the entertainment suit successfully. It’s an international tourism destination of it’s own right, prior to the gaming industry, giving it an upper hand versus other jurisdictions. Having a service culture linked to an immense HR pool only furthers its chances.
The intertwining structure of the Philippines regulatory framework is a challenge regional and global operators are keen to face head on. Pagcor will eventually have to walk the jagged edge towards privatization. For the moment, it does not seem interested in selling off the jewel of the crown but rather content to co-exist with other licensees while slowly but surely unraveling its different responsibilities.
After its shift in management, policy, and positioning, Solaire is a different property. Operational costs may still seem high but it is catering for a mixed clientele (50/ 50 locals/ visitors) and finally boosting profits. Okada will fall in line at some point – there’s too much at stake for it not to go through; Genting will milk its RWManila location and go into Entertainment City only when it feels it’s time; Melco-Crown will have to endure longer than most to turn a profit, once Belle starts sharing access to its vast retail clientele. Gaming suppliers are also profiting, even if having to go through a third party distributor.
The Philippines won’t ever see the same numbers of revenue as Macau – but then again, no other jurisdiction will ever come close. The margins will still be healthy and tax revenue strong. People come here for the idyllic settings, affordable rates, ease of communication, service. They come for the experience and they know: it’s more fun in the Philippines.