Thursday, June 20, 2024

PH plans to sell state-owned casinos; Osaka to debut first casino

The Philippines is eyeing a revenue of $1.47 billion from selling various small, state-owned casinos. This is deemed possible if the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) were privatized.

By being a private group, it could devote its resources to being a casino regulator. As part of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s sovereign wealth fund, the government is looking to boost revenue with this strategy.

“We are seriously considering private ownership of all PAGCOR-operated casinos,” PAGCOR chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco stated during the ASEAN Gaming Summit. “We’re the only governing body that does double duty as casino operators and regulators. That’s quite ironic.”

According to the PAGCOR website, the agency’s casino activities brought in P15.9 billion in gross gaming income in 2022 from its 44 state-owned Casino Filipino sites. Many Filipinos believe that the project could mean a brighter future for the online slot machine Philippines market.

“The casinos could be packaged when they are offered to bidders in order to unlock higher value,” Tengco said. During his time in office, which coincides with Marcos’ presidency until 2028, the CEO expressed his hope about finalizing the shift to private ownership.

In light of this, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno has stated that the seed cash for the Maharlika Investment Fund could be funded with earnings from this project. To make the project more possible, the gaming sector in the Philippines has been rebuilding after the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus.

“If we’re lucky, yearly total gaming revenue might reach pre-pandemic levels by next year,” Tengco said. He predicted that the $4-billion dollar integrated resort and casinos that have opened outside of Metro Manila will be the driving force behind the economic revival. According to PAGCOR data, the Philippines’ gross gaming revenue (GGR) increased to P214.3 billion in 2022 from P113.1 billion in 2021.

Osaka to debut first casino

According to multiple Japanese media sites, the government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida may approve the Osaka integrated resort plan as soon as possible. Las Vegas-based company MGM is working with the Japanese firm Orix on a project expected to cost $8.1 billion.

In 2019, the operator of the Bellagio and the Japanese financial services joined together on the project. With this, MGM can avoid spending as much money as it would if it functioned alone in Japan. If the project is approved soon, it is expected that the earliest it can open would be in 2029. However, both MGM and Orix still need their casino licensing papers approved.

The potential licensing of MGM’s Osaka casino is a reward for the company’s long wait. More than four years have passed since Japan’s late Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave his blessing to the concept of merged resorts. Since then, progress on the matter has been painfully slow.

Analysts predict that Japan will become Asia’s largest gaming market. However, in 2020, Las Vegas Sands had grown impatient with the slow progress being made toward bringing casinos to Japan.

Due to this, many casino companies aborted plans to pursue licenses in the country. However, despite other companies leaving their casino plans for Japan, MGM’s unwavering dedication to the Japanese market can finally pay off.

Asia’s iGaming industry 2023 status

In recent years, the gambling and casino industry in Asia is thriving and continues to expand. Asia has become a major player in the growth of the global gambling sector with countries such as the Philippines and Japan leading the development.

Despite the success of the casino gambling industry in most Asian countries, it is not without its challenges. Some countries in Asia such as Thailand and Indonesia still have strict laws against gambling and are actively enforcing them. However, many people see the initiative of Japan and the Philippines to slowly develop rules to pave the way for casino gaming as a sign for other countries to follow soon.

With both Japanese and the online slot machine Philippines industries trying to break cycles, fans of the casino gaming market in both countries are seeing a brighter future ahead. Many expect that it’s only a matter of time before both countries’ casino markets will prosper.

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