PAGCOR considers issuing licenses outside Manila

The Philippines gaming regulator is considering issuing gambling licenses outside the capital of Manila, and plans to require new casinos to meet a $300 million minimum investment requirement, the country’s gaming regulator said in an interview with Bloomberg.

The gaming regulator is “open to giving out a casino license if it can help boost economic activity and if the people in the area want it,” said Cristino Naguiat, chairman of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), who did not name potential locations.

The minimum investment, which may range depending on the location, will likely be implemented by the new president after the incumbent ends his six-year term in June 2016, Naguiat said.

Philippines, which aims to compete with the gambling hubs of Macau and Singapore amid plunging revenues, has been seeing positive growth in gross gaming revenue despite the market downturn.

In 2014, Pagcor reported gross gaming revenue for the industry of P111 billion, but the anti-corruption campaign initiated by the Chinese government resulted in a sharp decline in Chinese VIP patrons. Gross gaming revenue in the Philippines reached P130 billion (US$2.75 billion) in 2015, marking an increase of 17 percent from 2014.

By 2025, Philippine gaming revenue is expected to more than double from this year’s estimates of P135 billion (US$2.8 billion), the gaming regulator added.