The state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) is closing out the year with a bang, having announced that November marked the best revenue month in its 25-year history. Gaming operations recorded earnings of P2.32b (US $52.9m), P188m above Pagcor’s expectations and P140m higher than October 2011’s earnings. Pagcor’s income from its own casinos was P609m ($13.8m), a 35.6% bump over November 2010. The P1.1b derived from Pagcor’s slot machines was also the highest on record, a feat Chairman/CEO Cristino Naguiat Jr. attributed to new top-of-the-line machines installed in Casino Filipino branches and arcades. Naguiat noted that slots accounted for over 50% of Pagcor’s total gaming income in the first 11 months of 2011.
Licensed private gaming operations (casinos, poker, e-games and commercial bingo) added another P894m ($20.4m) to Pagcor’s coffers, an increase of P103m over the same month a year earlier. Naguiat claims his outfit is “beginning to complement the bullish performance of private licensed casinos. Competition is good for us. It only makes us more determined to keep on implementing innovative ways on how to survive despite the fierce competition we are facing both on the local and international front.”
Operators in Macau often speak of ways to diversify the Asian gambling hub’s appeal beyond that of the hardcore baccarat crowd. Galaxy Entertainment Group is certainly trying its best to bring this about, having opened a nine-screen cineplex in its Galaxy Macau operation on Dec. 15. It’s a shrewd move, given that Chinese authorities permit only 20 international films per year to be shown on mainland screens. Despite this strictly enforced quota, these 20 films accounted for 44% of the domestic box office last year. Galaxy is betting that a steady run of new releases and unseen old blockbusters will entice Chinese cinephiles to cross the water for a weekend celluloid binge (and if they happen to wander over to the gaming tables during a popcorn run, all the better).
Galaxy’s timing is perfect, as mainland authorities have just proposed a draft law that would ban films which “harm national honor, sovereignty and territorial integrity, incite ethnic hatred, spread evil cults or superstition, or propagate gambling, drug use, violence or terror.” Uh, okay… guess that just leaves Bambi, unless you find the idea of a talking deer as terrifying as we do.
Finally, while momentum appears to be building for Japan to finally open its market to casinos, it likely won’t happen if politicians’ wives have anything to say about it. Local web research site My Navi News recently asked its female readership to list the things they hoped not to find in their man’s room. Apart from the obvious items like a former girlfriend’s belongings and posters of scantily clad female celebrities, the fifth most-loathed item was gambling-related magazines (dealing with horseracing, pachinko, etc.). A separate study found such publications coming in one notch higher at #4, suggesting Japanese girls really hate guys reading about gambling. So, for any Japanese dudes reading this website, for God’s sake, flip your laptop closed, or you ain’t getting any tonight, and we don’t want that on our conscience.