Plans to privatize around 50 casinos

Philippines targets new markets amid Chinese tourist decline, says PAGCOR Chief

Reading time 1:27 min

The Philippine gaming industry is adapting to a more regulated environment while exploring alternative markets to sustain growth in the absence of Chinese tourists, according to Alejandro H. Tengco, chairman of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

Speaking at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) Asia last week, Tengco announced PAGCOR's plan to start privatizing around 50 casinos between the last quarter of 2025 and the first quarter of 2026, Macau Business reported.

He also emphasized PAGCOR's efforts to remove itself from the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force, a global anti-money laundering watchdog. Tengco highlighted PAGCOR’s two-pronged approach to preventing ill-gotten gains, focusing on risk-based supervision and junket operations.

“The measures include new but more stringent regulatory policies that thus far resulted in a 50 percent decrease in internet gaming licensee applications, the refusal of three junket operator applications, and a 137 percent increase in suspicious transactions reports made by junket operators,” he was quoted as saying in the report.

Since Tengco took office in late 2022, PAGCOR's intelligence has led to 10 successful operations involving internet gaming licensees and employees. “To date, we have penalized 65 internet gaming licensees and service providers since I assumed office and have collected a staggering 3 million U.S. dollars in fines and penalties,” he said.

The Philippine Department of Tourism reported a 150 percent year-on-year increase in arrivals from mainland China in the first quarter, totaling 109,568, though this is only 24 percent of the 2019 level.

Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Tengco noted that the industry does not solely depend on Chinese gamblers.

“Well, definitely, one way or the other, the non-arrival of Chinese tourists is also affecting our customer base. But despite it all, you can see we have other markets that have been supporting the Philippine casinos,” he said, referring to players travelling from Korea, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia, as per the report.

“I would want to say that definitely if the Chinese tourists will come to the Philippines, then there will definitely be a better performance for PAGCOR. We are trying our best to be able to mitigate the absence of Chinese tourists by attracting more people to come. In fact, not only from Asia,” he added.

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