Why is Gambling so important for the tourism sector in the Philippines?
Gambling is big business in the Philippines. The country has become a tourist hotspot in recent years. This is because of the casinos being a major attraction, particularly in the capital of Manila.
There have been different forms of gambling available in the country going as far back as the 16th century. However, it is only in recent years that the sector is becoming more centrally organized. This is despite resistance for some time from many notable government officials about the role of gambling in society.
These days, gambling is vital for the country. There are significant revenues being generated every year. There’s a lot of people getting employment in the sector. This report about the local gambling sector and the activities of Filipino gamblers also shows the passion amongst locals.
The makeup of gambling in the Philippines
Gambling is managed in the Philippines through a government agency called the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). This is state-owned and operates some individual casinos itself. This is also a regulator for the many privately-owned casino facilities around the country. The privately-owned exclusive resorts are perfect for those who prefer luxury travel.
Another key area of business for PAGCOR in recent years is the licensing of offshore online gambling operators. While people in the Philippines cannot legally gamble online, the country is a hub for many online operations that target other countries across Asia.
This type of operation has caused some resistance in recent times from the likes of China. The global superpower believes that a lot of the online gambling operations that base themselves in the Philippines are targeting people on mainland China where gambling is illegal.
This led to attempts to ban these operations from the Philippines, but to no avail. Something similar was happening in Cambodia, with the government there deciding to ban all forms of online gambling operations. This led to significant job losses.
Land-based casinos in the Philippines
A major attraction for tourists in the Philippines are the casinos. While there are the likes of Macau as a major gambling hub, the Philippines can cater to a different type of audience. They also have other types of great tourism opportunities to explore rather than being solely focused on gambling.
The Metro Manila area alone has more than 20 different casinos dotted around the region, showcasing the prevalence of gambling in the nation. Many of these are integrated resorts that combine casinos with amazing hotel resorts with all sorts of facilities and amenities.
Significant money has been invested into these luxurious hotel-casinos over the years. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major issues for these types of land-based casinos in the country, as well as the tourism industry in general.
Casinos have been largely shut down with the country during pandemic started to kick in during March. Some of these are back operating at reduced capacities, with some possibly never going to be able to reopen ever again.
Benefits to the local economy
Before the global pandemic hit the world, there was a lot of success with the land-based casinos in the country. These revenues were growing steadily year-on-year as more and more people visited the wonderful country.
In 2019, the total PAGCOR revenue was about US$1.5bn, a rise of 11.7% year-on-year. This led to a lot of tax revenue going back to the government that could then be used to improve social programs.
Some of the funds went to the Philippine Sports Commission, the Dangerous Drugs Board and the Board of Claims. Cities that host the casinos also get a cut of the revenues, as well as sports people and coaches who are competing in global events.
In terms of employment, there are more than 100,000 people who are working in gambling operations across Manila alone, showcasing how much job creation both directly and indirectly creates. This is particularly the case with online operations.
For tourists who are looking to travel to the Philippines and who has interest in taking part in a bit of gambling, you need to be at least 21 years old in order to take part in casino gambling or poker games. The legal age to take part in the lottery is lower at 18 years old.
With a lot of these funds going back into the community through a variety of social programs, as well as creating jobs for locals, it really is a great thing. The government has realized these great benefits. They have put the time and effort into boosting the sector as much as possible.
While the COVID-19 pandemic is a massive test for the industry, everyone hopes that it will survive and come back better than ever.