Grant Govertsen: The Philippine gaming market is on fire

In this interview with’s Stephanie Raquel, Grant Govertsen of Union Gaming gives his insights on the Asia-Pacific regional gaming market.

Beyond Macau, the Asia-Pacific region offers great opportunities for gambling operators to expand. The challenge for these operators, however, is finding the most compelling market.

Of all the Asia-Pacific countries, excluding Japan, Grant Govertsen of Union Gaming said the Philippines stands out as the market to look for.

He pointed out that the Philippines is one that interests investors because of its local market as well as the sudden influx of Chinese tourists after President Rodrigo Duterte’s move to thaw Manila’s cold relationship with Beijing.

Govertsen said the Philippine gambling market’s gross gaming revenue story gets better and better since it is not dependent on the inbound of Chinese players but rather on the strength of its local economy.

“[The] Philippines has actually done a pretty good job, and what we’ve seen in Entertainment City has been a success story. And there are four licensees, Okada just opened. The market is on fire if you will both in terms of a local story, which has been driven by the economy,” Govertsen told “And I think Duterte’s rapprochement with China is helping insofar as you want more Chinese coming to the Philippines.”

Japan remains the clear favorite of most investors, according to Govertsen, but it’s a guessing game on how things will play out in the island nation.

Govertsen explained that the significant amount of interest in Japan is fueled by the thought that it will be modeling its gambling jurisdiction on Singapore.

“We don’t know exactly what Japan has is in store for us, simply because we are all waiting for the details,” he said. “The number and location of licenses, what’s the tax rate going to be? Will locals gamble and will locals pay a fee to get in, etc?”

The Union Gaming analyst clustered Korea and Vietnam in the group of murky markets due to their governments’ gambling policies.

The Korean and Vietnamese governments, according to Govertsen, seemed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as it relates to the request for proposal (RFP) process for the integrated resorts.

“Other markets, it’s a little more murky. So, for instance, Korea, they held an RFP last year and not too many people came simply because the structure of the regulatory environment there isn’t conducive to a return of investment that they like to see,” he said. “Vietnam seems to be another example of that. The Vietnamese government, they finally passed what seemed to be a temporary locals pilot. However, there doesn’t seem to be a RFP process because they’ve given licenses to a couple local politically connected parties rather than trying to attract billions of dollars of outside foreign capital.”