Private Filipino casinos are booming

By William Brown Updated
Private Filipino casinos are booming

The revenue at Philippines-licensed private casino operators surged by one-quarter in the third quarter of 2019, while state-managed casino operations failed to keep pace.

Calvin Ayre reports that the figures released by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation this week show industry-wide gaming revenue of US$1.2 billion in the three months ending September 30, a nearly one-fifth improvement over the same period last year.

For the year-to-date, market-wide revenue is up 16 per cent to $3.6 billion.

Land-based casino revenue rose 20.8 per cent, of which two per cent came via the APGCOR-operated Casino Filipino brand.

Private-sector casino operations fared much better, growing 25.3 per cent year-on-year.

Most of the private sector growth came via casinos licensed to operate in Manila’s Entertainment City gaming zone, which reported revenue up 23.5 per cent.

This sum represented a 4.1 per cent rise over quarter two figures.

Private casino revenue that was derived from junket operators saw more than a 50 per cent rise in the third quarter of 2018, but was down 5.5 per cent from the second quarter of 2019.

Private operators’ junket-derived revenue has now fallen for two straight quarters.

By comparison, PAGCOR’s junket-derived revenue has fallen 15.5 per cent year-on-year.

Like its private counterparts, the Casino Filipino brand’s junket revenue has also fallen with each quarter this year.

New casino in booming Filipino market

The surge of gaming in the Philippines has shown no signs of letting up, with the Subic Bay Yacht Club, located in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone on the western coastline holding a soft opening for its new boutique casino recently.

Asgam reported last week that the casino forms a central feature of the newly renovated Yacht Club which, at a cost of US$10 million, is targeting Asia’s growing yachting and boating community.

“Subic is a safe haven in the boating world, and we have mega yachts coming in on a weekly and monthly basis to use Subic Bay as their base,” chief executive officer and president of Volare Grandezza, Manual Antonio Sequeira – one of the partner firms in the property’s casino operations said.

“We have everything from Russian mega-yachts measuring 200 metres and above to mega-ships coming in from China – the smallest being 3,800 people and the biggest 5,200 guests, which is a huge market.

“So we saw an opportunity that this Yacht Club would be a great base to host a casino. We are positioning ourselves very much as a boutique casino, and we are only the second yacht club in the world to have a casino after Hobart.”

The new casino offers impressive views of the serenity of Subic Bay and opened last Monday with eight tables and 169 slot machines, but expects to grow to 43 gaming tables in operation by December, including roulette, pai gow, baccarat, blackjack and pontoon.

In-house junket operations will launch in 20202, and there are also plans to work with international junket operators across Asia.

One of only two casinos in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Subic Bay Yacht Club enjoys the same tax benefits as the nearby Clark Freeport Zone and sees itself as a unique alternative to the growing casino industry in Clark, whose primary target market is Koreans looking for a golfing getaway.

Subic offers three golf courses of its own and is just 45 minutes from Clark by car, but also sees its waterside location as a competitive advantage.

“The growing market in Asia of people boating and yachting will bring people here,” Mr Sequeira said.

“The fishing here is fantastic and just 20 minutes out by boat we have coves which you will drool over with pristine sands, unreachable by road, a two kilometre beach with nobody else around and clear, clean water. It is something we can produce that nobody else can.”

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