PAGCOR, the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation, is none too concerned over the long-term fiscal implications stemming from the recent terror wreaked on Resorts World Manila that left 37 innocent dead.
PAGCOR CEO Andrea Domingo told reporters this week that her agency doesn’t expect the country’s casino industry to suffer as a result of the tragedy.
On June 2, a man reportedly suffering from a severe gambling addiction, entered Resorts World in the capital city and lit parts of the gaming floor on fire.
“As of now, I don’t see any effect on the gaming industry,” Domingo said, as reported by Malaya Business Insight. “Since January, we’re averaging P5 billion ($101 million) a month, so that’s around P25 billion as of May. I think we’ll be able to hit the target of P60 billion and above.”
The reason for Domingo’s seemingly unwarranted optimism is that the Resorts World attack isn’t believed to have been linked to any terroristic organization. Capital Region Police Office Chief Oscar Albayalde said the suspect, who later committed suicide, was heavily indebted to the casino and that was his main motive.
Unrest in Philippines
While many Americans feel President Donald Trump is unstable, even potentially unfit for the White House, he has nothing on Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.
The outspoken leader launched a war on illicit drugs immediately after taking office last June. His “shoot first, ask questions later” directive to law enforcement agencies has been denounced by foreign leaders and human rights activists.
His corruption crusade extended to illegal gambling syndicates, though in recent months he’s lessened that position, citing inadequate police personnel as the reason.
The controversy surrounding Duterte has led to civil unrest in Mindanao, the second largest and southernmost major island in the Philippines. It’s also home to Davao City, where Duterte was previously mayor.
Mindanao has since become inundated with hundreds of militants from the Islamic State (ISIS). Duterte has declared martial law on the island due to the ongoing crisis in Marawi City where 38 civilians have been killed, and nearly 200,000 evacuated.
Domingo’s comments that she doesn’t forecast the Manila attack impacting revenue comes as a surprise to many. But the fact of the matter is that while ISIS has infiltrated parts of Mindanao, the country’s integrated resorts are in Manila, almost 1,000 miles north.
PAGCOR currently owns and operates 47 full-fledged casinos or satellite gaming venues spread throughout the country. However, it’s beginning the process of selling those assets, in an effort to become a regulator-only agency and to rid the potential conflicts of interest.
Owners of the resorts in Manila, which includes, in addition to Resorts World, City of Dreams, Solaire, and Okada, released statements this week promoting their safety and security, and that they remain open for business. While some travelers might think twice before flying to Manila in the weeks ahead, proxy gambling should help Domingo’s revenue claim moving forward.
Popular in many parts of Asia, proxy betting is the process where a person physically located inside a casino gambles on behalf of someone else. It’s widely practiced across the Philippines.