Philippine Gaming Businesses on Strong Pace of Expansion

Posted by DG, Date posted at October 4, 2022

The Philippines holds the most number of Integrated Resorts in Asia second only to Macau. The pace of growth is clearly picking up pace with news that Macau operators and suppliers are also looking into the Philippines as a potential market for future clientele. 

Integrated Resorts or IRs have seen flourishing growth that not only involves the Luzon area but also touches the southern region of the Philippines. Despite the weak presence of the Chinese market, this steady pace is brought about the increasing awareness of how the gaming industry can help not only direct parties to the business but tread into the scoped area of expansion. 

Current Government Stance on Integrated Resorts

This marked progress also brings about government parties involved in the business. In August of 2022, the Philippine Congress recently had a hearing regarding the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) 2023 budget. To quote Paul Daza, North Samar’s Ist District representative, queried on the need to have some “some sort of convergence” and “a common ground” between DOT and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) — for the latter is the regulator of Integrated Resorts in the country. 

Department of Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco digressed, “gaming was not part of DOT’s tourism product portfolio” expounding on the absence of statistics on their contributions to foreign arrivals and foreign exchange receipts. She continued, “we cannot be opposed to collaborating with Pagcor for public-private sector partnership on the accommodation aspect of gaming”.

Bill Barnett on Integrated Resorts Expansion in Asia and the Philippines

Renowned global realty consultant and founder of C9 Hotelworks, Bill Barnett, has also cited trends in the Asian region that Macau operators were targeting new markets and this pace was accelerated by the pandemic conditions. Noting that other Southeast Asia countries of Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand have now warmed up to allow casinos as well.

Barnett though expressed apprehensions about the current IR construction in Boracay as he’s against gaming “on one of the world’s greatest beaches and destinations”. Adding, “It’s a shame and longer term, the destination will lose much of its DNA to Palawan, Bohol and elsewhere.” Barnett also advises against more hotel rooms in conjunction with providing more gaming tables. “It won’t end well as there have to be other demand generators.”

Singled out by Barnett is the potential of Hann Resorts and Casino in Clark as it is on its way to developing critical mass, and has airlift and service capacity. He includes NUSTAR in Cebu despite being still under construction at the current time. 

He noted how infrastructure could sway factors to everyone’s advantage citing the Cebu Cordova Expressway as a game changer in easing access to Cebu as well as NUSTAR. The future plans to connect Mactan Airport to the expressway will also be a huge factor in the long run.

Current IRs in the Philippines and plans for expansion

In Metro Manila, there are Newport World Resorts (NWR) — now rebranded as Resorts World Manila, City of Dreams Manila, Okada Manila, Solaire Resorts and Casino in the Manila Bay Entertainment City. Solaire is currently building a five-star hotel with gaming operations in Quezon City and there’s a discussion on building an Integrated Resort in Cavite. 

The first Integrated Resort outside Luzon — NUSTAR Resort and Casino in Kawit Island in Cebu has soft-opened while Hann Resorts and Casino is expanding in Clark. In Mactan, Cebu – although there’s a delay in construction, the Integrated Resort has been approved to be established. 

The Integrated Resorts’ growth has a markedly positive influence on how the local business events industry. The Marriott Grand Ballroom at Resorts World Manila has a 4,000-guest capacity in theatre seating and the future convention centers and performing arts theatre in NUSTAR will create an edge in the industry.

Image source: Venue Discovery

Solid support found locally

The Philippines is fortunate to have a large domestic base for its market. This has helped in the recent lack of Chinese tourists. The ease of restrictions to play also had other markets in South Korea and Singapore visit the IRs in the Philippines. 

Resorts World Manila has also launched their Epic Rewards programme to attract the local populace. Elizabeth Gokauchi-Ong, senior manager of resort branding, PR and publicity at NUSTAR revealed that their plan is based on a market that caters to domestic and international sources equally. The local market has indeed become stronger and they will tap into the international market from the North and South Asia areas.

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