Philippines Casinos Helping Build Typhoon Shelters, as Q3 Gaming Revenue Rebounds

Posted on: November 25, 2020, 11:17h. 

Last updated on: November 25, 2020, 11:34h.

Casinos in the Philippines play a vital role in providing tax revenue for the Southeast Asian country. Soon, some of that gaming money will go towards protecting residents from the next devastating typhoon.

Philippines casinos typhoon Asia
People in the Rizal province east of Manila gather what’s left of their houses after Typhoon Vamco hit the Philippines earlier this month. (Image: Reuters)

The Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) announced this week that it’s donating P2 billion (USD$41.5 million) to construct multipurpose evacuation centers. PAGCOR is a government gaming regulator that also operates its own casinos under the Casino Filipino brand.

The agency collects gaming taxes from commercial casinos, including the four integrated resorts in Manila, and additionally derives income from its own gaming properties.

The Filipinos have suffered a lot this year — from the global pandemic to a series of destructive typhoons. Hence, despite our revenue losses, we have committed to provide a long-term solution to the most vulnerable sectors and communities,” explained PAGCOR Chair Andrea Domingo.

PAGCOR says the allocation will build 31 evacuation centers in 31 cities. The buildings are designed to withstand strong typhoons. The 2020 Pacific typhoon season included 10 named typhoons that have killed 474 people and caused $3.23 billion in damages. Several have ravaged the Philippines.

Known as hurricanes in the Western Hemisphere, the minimum classification for a typhoon is sustained winds of 73 miles per hour.

Pandemic Punishes Gaming

PAGCOR reported its third quarter gross gaming revenue (GGR) this week. As expected, ongoing business disruptions caused by COVID-19 resulted in reduced win.

GGR totaled P15.95 billion ($330 million USD). While that’s a more than 600 percent surge on quarter two, it represents a 71 percent decline compared with July-September 2019.

The increase on Q2 is a result of land-based gaming being permitted to resume operations in Manila.

Resorts World Manila, City of Dreams, Okada, and Solaire once again have their table games and slot machines active, albeit in reduced capacities and under numerous health safety measures designed to slow the spread of COVID-19. The four casinos collectively won $270 million, or more than 80 percent of the Philippines casino income in the third quarter.

PAGCOR-operated casinos reported GGR of $19 million.

Gaming Expansion

Philippines casinos rely heavily on international gamblers, primarily those from China. With foreign travel remaining on hold, PAGCOR announced earlier this month that the land-based casino operators can temporarily offer gambling on the internet.

That isn’t sitting well with China, as President Xi Jinping is on a mission to stop the flow of cross-border gambling. Casinos are prohibited everywhere in the People’s Republic, the lone exception being in Macau, which is a Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR).

China’s Ministry of Public Security estimates that $150 billion moved out from underneath its control in 2019 through gambling channels. Xi wants to greatly reduce that colossal number, calling such volume of funds moving a threat to China’s national security.

Chinese residents are prohibited from gambling online. But many Philippines Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) specifically target such players.