The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) isn’t letting a cloud of controversy from the Universal Entertainment case cast pessimism on their outlook for 2013. After posting record revenue numbers in 2012 that fell a hair short of $1 billion (a little over Php 40 billion), the government-owned agency has set a goal of earning a total revenue of Php 44 billion, a 10 percent improvement from last year’s figures.
Increased contributions from their existing gaming activities like e-games, commercial bingo, and poker are expected to help Pagcor reach for this goal. But the biggest source of excitement and optimism is coming from the scheduled opening of Enrique Razon Jr’s Solaire Manila Casino & Resort, the first of the four integrated resorts that will make up Pagcor’s Entertainment City this March. The opening of Solaire will expand casino gaming business in the country, particularly the 18,500 square meter of gaming space, including 1,200 new slots and 300 gaming tables, that the resort will have. Pagcor is also hoping for more robust returns from its 13 Casino Filipino facilities, as well as the continued expansion of its existing e-games parlors.
Increased tourism will also play a huge part in bringing in more foreigners to the country, an important source of revenue for the gaming agency. “Everybody’s taking a second look at the Philippines,” Pagcor chairman Cristino Naguiat Jr. said in a press briefing. “They’re bullish on the Philippine gaming industry. They see hope in the Philippines. Its not just gaming. We also boast of our world-class tourist destinations.”
With the enormously popular “It’s More Fun In The Philippines!” campaign the Department of Tourism has been touting to the global stage, the influx of more tourists who will see the Philippines as a prime destination for recreation and gambling will most certainly help Pagcor meet, and hopefully, exceed, the enormous expectations the agency has set for itself.
All in all, Pagcor has pegged a total revenue of just under Php 30 billion from its gaming tables and slot machine operations, a number that isn’t so outlandish anymore given the kind of year the government-owned agency had in 2012.
On the flip side, Naguiat also acknowledged that the current investigation surrounding Kazuo Okada’s Universal Entertainment could end up being a “temporary setback” should the Department of Justice’s investigation find Okada guilty of allegations that he bribed former Pagcor officials in order to get preferential treatment in securing its license and operations in the country. On top of the government automatically canceling Universal’s casino license in the country, a guilty verdict could also throw Pagcor’s prognostications for a loop. “I can’t quantify the effect but it would certainly have an impact on the industry,” Naguiat said, before adding that the project will inevitably be delayed coupled with a new round of negotiations, which Naguiat remarked “can take long”.
Despite that uncertainty, Pagcor is still confident that exceeding that $1 billion benchmark remains an attainable goal for the agency. Frankly, with the continued gaming expansion in the country and the scheduled opening of Solaire Manila, we’d be surprised if they don’t hit their benchmark with a few months left to spare in 2013.