The struggles in 2020 of the casino industry in the Philippines
The gambling industry in the Philippines is on the rise in the past couple of years. Both forms of gambling, including land-based casinos and online casinos, are legalized and regulated by the government-led corporation PAGCOR. Unlike other countries in the South-East Asian region, the Philippines allow gambling activities to both tourists and local people. To illustrate how the gambling industry is massive in the Philippines, we should say that it is the third most significant source of revenue after the Revenue Service and the Customs.
Gambling Industry in the Philippines
The Philippines opened the door to foreign investors who built many luxury resorts that facilitate casinos as well. Besides enjoying the stunning nature that this country has to offer, the tourists can also entertain themselves in brick-and-mortar casinos and feel the Vegas-like atmosphere. PAGCOR is working on monumental projects such as the Entertainment City, a mega-complex that includes four casino resorts, that is going to provide an ultimate gaming experience to all its visitors. It is located in the Bay of Manila, and the project is intended to challenge Macau, which is another gambling hotspot in this part of the world.
Online casinos shouldn't be underestimated at all, since they are also prevalent in this country, although the regulations in this part of the industry are a bit more strict. This area still requires some improvements in terms of setting the precise rules, and the governing body is continuously working on this topic.
The Interactive Gaming Act of 2003 enabled online gambling licensing, but the main activities started in 2017 after the government introduced a new category of offshore licenses. Thanks to these regulation improvements, sports betting has been allowed in the Philippines. However, domestic online gambling operators are still not allowed to offer their services to the locals, but they can run their operations to players outside of the country.
Still, Filipinos can enjoy their online gaming since they are allowed to play online casino games that are operated by offshore companies. Therefore, online casino players from the Philippines can register and enjoy their gambling experience at the world's top-rated sites. You can access some of the PAGCOR-licensed online casinos from BestCasinoSites.net/Philippines/.
The Growth of Online Casinos
The gambling industry in the Philippines, in general, is in rapid growth, and the rate will hit 20% in the next years. The online casino market and the expansion of POGOs (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators) have been significantly high recently since the Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte allowed the resumption of online gambling operations despite the Covid-19 lockdown. POGOs are very popular among the Chinese players, which is very beneficial for the gaming industry, but on the other hand, it brings several controversies.
Many people connect this decision to the increased Chinese influence on Duterte's government. The POGO opponents consider that they do not operate in transparent terms, and they are privileged by the government. Since POGOs players are mostly coming from China, it is not strange that 70.000 Chinese workers are recruited just in the Manila-based POGOs. However, many POGOs operate illegally, which means there can be a lot more workers that are also employed unlawfully.
On the other hand, Duterte and the POGO proponents claim that they are essential services, although many businesses have been closed due to the Covid-19 lockdown. The main argument of those who support POGOs is that they are bringing significant revenue to the government's budget, and therefore they are essential for the country's economy. Despite all the criticism, Duterte keeps defending POGOs, and as of now, they are going to continue operating.
The Current situation with Land-Based Casinos
Although the gambling industry in the Philippines is healthy, the market of physical casinos started to struggle due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is not strange since the lockdown has been imposed for two months, and during that time, all land-based casinos needed to stop their operations. They couldn't generate any income but were still required to service all their financial obligations. Not only that locals couldn't visit these venues, but the tourists couldn't travel to the Philippines for fun and leisure as well.
The Covid-19 crisis also slowed down some massive projects such as the Emerald Resort and Casino in Cebu, which should have been opened in the current year. Instead of that, the opening is expected to take place in the Q1 of 2022. It is going to be one of the most prestigious resorts in the Philippines, which casino is going to feature more than a thousand different games.
However, the predictions for recovering from the consequences caused by the Covid-19 virus are encouraging, and the industry of brick-and-mortar casinos should get back on track. As reported by Business News Asia, it is expected that Manila and Cebu are going to be highly competitive to Macau or Singapore.
Polarized Views about Gambling
Recent developments around the POGOs operation despite the lockdown also raised several political debates. President's spokesperson Harry Roque stated out that POGOs will benefit the nation's business process outsourcing sector.
However, the president of the Informational Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines, Rey Untal, rejected this view as he does not consider POGOs as part of the BPO sector. The Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also challenged this view who said that POGOs could claim their exemption from paying license fees to PAGCOR, along with the 5% tax imposed by the government. Drilon says that the Bureau of Internal Revenue already had specific difficulties with collecting taxes from POGOs. The POGOs opponents are bringing up different theories, and the most interesting one is that China uses POGOs for espionage on foreign soil.
On the other hand, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority is looking forward to raising revenues through POGOs. PEZA also raised the support for the PAGCOR's initiative to relocate POGOs outside Metro Manila.
Although the gambling industry is facing different challenges, it should thrive and keep improving. The Philippines have the capacity to become one of the most attractive destinations for gamblers all around the world, who can enjoy stunning nature and have great entertainment in resort-based casinos.
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