What Do All the New Casino Integrated Resorts Mean for the Local Economy?

Friday June 1, 2018

The Philippine economy has largely held steady despite the country seemingly being in constant turmoil, even growing by 6.7% in 2017, according to CNN Philippines. This means that the country has kept in step with Asia’s fastest growing economies, and with the current administration’s Build, Build, Build program, more of the same is expected this year and beyond.

Perhaps surprisingly, integrated resorts have become chief contributors to this growing economy, with GRR Asia reporting that the casino industry alone earned Php152.55 billion in 2017. This means an additional Php100 billion or so for the Philippine economy, which the government can use to subsidize its infrastructure and socio-civic projects.

Much of the casino action in the country happens in Entertainment City, our version of the famous Sin City in Las Vegas. In fact, Rappler notes that over 50% of gaming revenue comes from Entertainment City. For the first 9 months of 2016, for example, the industry raked in a total of Php118 billion, with our own Strip accounting for 54% of those earnings.

Again, the industry’s eye-popping yearly profits are testaments to how casino gaming is flourishing in the country. This boom in the business can be attributed to a host of factors, mainly the rise of the Filipino middle class, whose patronage of casinos have greatly expanded the clientele of the different integrated resorts here in the Philippines. Of course, VIP gamers—foreigners flown into the country by independent entrepreneurs or junket operators—still comprise of a majority of casino players, but the addition of a new market of gamers certainly helps.

Another important factor that has contributed to the flourishing casino industry in the Philippines is the ban on online gaming. Physical casinos around the globe are losing their market share to the online gaming industry, which has now reached a level where it can accurately replicate the casino experience. Moreover, online games are easy to play and innovative, and they appeal to a younger, more tech-savvy demographic. Gaming portal Slingo has tapped into this market by allowing its players to “play on the go” through its online app. This allows players to enjoy their favorite casino games anywhere, anytime, without having to make the effort to visit an actual casino. Unlike Las Vegas, which is in a constant battle against the digital revolution to attract audiences into the casinos, the Philippines has no trouble drawing in big crowds to visit government-approved casinos like those in Entertainment City. This means more revenue for these establishments.

Aside from gross gaming revenue, integrated resorts have also provided numerous employment opportunities for Filipinos. We talked about it here on Manila Up, and as we noted: “[it’s] not for everyone but there’s something in it for anyone”. The jobs these integrated resorts have opened up have certainly helped quite a few Filipinos, and have contributed to the growing economy in the process.

Additionally, integrated resorts rake in more than just gaming revenue. For instance, Business World states that the City of Dreams resort-casino earned Php5.92 billion last year from its non-gaming segments including its luxury hotel, and specialty restaurants and bars. Taxes from these non-gaming profits, in turn, mean additional funding for the government, which further strengthens the economy.

Integrated resorts have been a boon to the Philippine economy, and it may be high time that we open up the country to more of these hotel-casinos to further boost the Philippine economy. Just perhaps not on the island of Boracay.

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