Religious groups in the Philippine region of Baguio and Benguet have reiterated their opposition to gambling in any form.
“In our concern for the common good, we exhort our people in Baguio and Benguet to abstain from all forms of gambling, be they legal or illegal, like jueteng, e-bingo, online gambling or casino,” the groups said in a joint statement.
The group includes the Baguio-Benguet Ecumenical Group, the Diocese of Baguio, the United Methodist Group, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, the Episcopal Church in the Philippines, the Commission on Ecumenism of the Roman Catholic Church, the St. Stephen Lutheran Church, the Philippine Military Evangelical Church and the Assembly of God.
Last year, Baguio City Bishop Carlito Cenzon asked the local government to prevent the operation of a casino or any other gambling or gaming enterprise in the city and the province, saying that gambling “usually leads to an unhealthy lifestyle, later on financial problems, and social problems such as criminalities.”
Meanwhile in Manila, the government promotes casinos to boost tourism and the economy. Solaire, the first integrated resort built in Manila, is intensifying efforts to attract more high rollers; while the newly-opened Melco’s City of Dreams has welcomed 600,000 visitors and high occupancy rates since its December 15, 2014 soft opening.
There are two more integrated resorts coming: Japan’s Universal Entertainment Corp’s $2 billion project expected to open in 2016 and Travellers International’s joint venture with Genting Hong Kong, which is expected to start operation in 2018.
PAGCOR REVENUE DOWN, NET INCOME UP
On Monday, the state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR) announced a 5.05% year-on-year net income increase in 2014 to PHP3.25 billion (US$73.7 million).
PAGCOR saw its revenue fell by 1.32% year-on-year to PHP39.99 billion, reporting a loss of PHP12.17 million on foreign exchange. The company’s gaming revenue, however, increased by 8.51% to PHP29.93 compared to 2013, still below 2014′s annual target of PHP31.02 billion.
Total expenses such as operating expenses and contributions to the government, dropped by 1.85% from 2013 to PHP36.74 billion. Contributions to different government departments combined with tax payments in 2014 totalled to PHP18.83 billion, with Php 14.16 billion directly transferred to the Bureau of the Treasury.
AULT GROUP BETS ON MANILA’S HIGH-ROLLERS
Michael Van Cleef Ault, leading the Ault Group—the nightclub consulting firm, is counting on Manila’s casinos to attract rich punters and partygoers.
Ault brought the night club brands—Pangaea and Chaos—into City of Dreams to capitalize on the Philippines’ fast-growing casino industry. “We want to bring more people to Manila, make Manila more of a club destination, a destination for other things, for luxury, for clubbing and these integrated resorts will only add to that,” Ault told Reuters.