Online gaming to push PAGCOR revenues to US$761 million in 2021: Andrea Domingo

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PAGCOR chair Andrea Domingo

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Philippines gaming regulator PAGCOR is expecting to record income from gaming operations of around Php38 billion (US$761 million) in 2021, representing a 27% increase over 2020 thanks largely to contributions from its growing online gaming sectors.

The estimate was put forward by PAGCOR chair Andrea Domingo during a television interview with ABS-CBN News on Monday in which she also defended the governments decision to lift a moratorium on new casino developments in Boracay.

According to Domingo, the regulator has generated income of around Php20 billion (US$400 million) as of July and expects to reach Php38 billion by the end of the year up from Php30 billion (US$600 million) in 2020 due to the easing of lockdowns in Metro Manila.

With the easing of the IATF classification here in Metro Manila where 85% of our operations are, from ECQ to GCQ, [it will allow us] to operate at a higher percentage, Domingo said. We believe we should be able to earn about Php38 billion this year.

It will be better under GCQ with granular lockdowns and also having a later curfew hour [for local residents].

However, Domingo noted that online gaming would remain a key component of PAGCORs revenue streams for the foreseeable future, with the introduction of the PIGO schemefor locals and licensed e-Sabong making up for a recent decline in revenue from POGO.

Right now most of our revenue is coming from junket and e-junket which means most players are from outside the country, she said. Also a little bit from POGO and e-Sabong. Online games now are earning the money for the government, mostly.

Domingo said there were now six licensed e-Sabong providers, up from four previously, which were expected to push revenues from their current Php400 million (US$8 million) per month since May to at least Php550 million (US$11 million) per month.

Meanwhile, the PAGCOR chair was quick to allay concerns over the potential environmental impact from the planned development of two new casinos in Boracay.

Both Leisure and Resorts World Corp and Alliance Global Group have confirmed plans to revisit previously announced casino developments after President Rodrigo Duterte last week lifted a moratorium implemented in 2018.

Domingo said she expects both developments to contribute positively to Boracays long-term future.

The Newcoast (Alliance Global Group) development is investing Php19 billion (US$380 million) and its clientele will those coming from Genting cruises, so they are all foreigners and these cruises bring in about 2,500 to 3,000 tourists every week, she said. But they are limited to where they can go because there are just the four hotels and casino there. I would imagine no one in their right mind would invest Php19 billion and then have people dump their garbage and their shit in their own beaches, so I think those concerns are unfounded.

The other casino which is by Galaxy from Macau, the initial plans that I saw was low density with lot of free space respecting all the mangroves and all the natural elements, and it will be really high-end.

If you saw these developments you would see they are maybe 100 times better than the small little stalls that overcrowd the main island right after the beaches.