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PH gaming industry remains lucrative despite competition

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By Chino S. Leyco

 

Macau — The Philippine gaming sector is becoming one of the most lucrative markets in Asia amid the country’s robust economic expansion, analysts at Union Gaming Group and Morgan Stanley said yesterday.

At the Global Gaming Expo G2E Asia here, Grant Govertsen, Union Gaming manager director said that inbound Chinese players as well as the nation’s strong economic expansion continue to drive the local gaming industry.

Govertsen noted “the Philippines is probably one that comes to mind” when asked what are the most interesting markets in Asia today, noting “we’re seeing a decent amount of growth in inbound Chinese volumes.

“But the real exciting part there is the local story, the local economy, its going so well,” he added.

Govertsen also said that the Philippines’ gross gaming revenues are getting “better and better and better, and it’s not dependent on Chinese entirely.”

In 2016, the Philippine gaming sector expanded by 19 percent in terms of gross gaming revenues to P149.12 billion from P125.36 billion in the previous year.

Andrea N. Domingo, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. chairman and chief executive now expects the industry to grow to around P155 billion to P160 billion this year.

For his part, Praveen Choudhary, Morgan Stanley, managing director said that the “Philippines looks like the market to look for” in the Asia-Pacific region.

“The gambling appetite in Asia is still humongous, as long as you can build casinos, IRs [integrated resorts], entertainment around that, good food, that’s an easy bargain. You can keep getting more and more out of it. I will not be surprised if I hear more success in the future,” he added.

Other markets that could potentially transform into international gaming destinations are Japan and South Korea, the two analysts said.

Earlier, debt-watcher Fitch Ratings said the Philippine gaming sector may grow by a high single-digit growth this year despite Metro Manila’s rising competition from other Asia-Pacific economies.

Based on its “Eye in the Sky Series: Philippines” report, Fitch said the country’s robust economic growth and the opening of Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada’s casino complex would boost the local gaming market.

There are four integrated resorts in the Metro Manila, including those in the Entertainment City — Resorts World Manila, Solaire Resorts and Casino, City of Dreams Manila as well as Okada Manila — three of which reported strong profits last year, while one had just opened recently.

Travellers International Hotel Group owned Resorts World saw its net income at P3.4 billion last year, while Razon-led Bloomberry Resorts Corp.’s Solaire posted a P2.32-billion profit and Melco Crown and Belle Corp.’s City of Dreams with $491.2 million.

The Okada Manila, a $2.4-billion new resort, just opened in late March this year.

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