Philippines casinos and gambling guide
Philippines Casino & Gambling Overview
2017 Philippines Casino Update
Gambling has been legal in the Philippines since a 1976 presidential decree by then President Ferdinand Marcos created the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). The country's gambling industry is growing rapidly. Credit Suisse has forecast that Philippine casinos will generate gross gaming revenues of $6 billion by 2018, which would put the country in the top four in the world by this measure.
The current president, Rodrigo Duterte, declared war against online gambling which initially caused Pagcor to refuse license renewals for over 280 internet cafes and sports books used by Filipinos. By early October that stance had seemed to relax. Duterte's actions sowed uncertainty over whether about 75 online casinos licensed in the CEZA jurisdiction, servicing most of Asia's online gambling needs, would come under his sword as well. Beyond that, Pagcor plans to sell all 46 of the casinos they own by the end of 2017 and are getting into the online casino licensing market, a function previously held only outside Manila.
Other important news of 2016 and up to Q3 2017 includes strong gross gaming revenues while Macau has turned the corner and Singapore experiences continued contraction. Okada Manila (formerly Manila Bay Resorts) opened in December 2016, to save their license but didn't begin offering casino games until February 2017. Resorts World Manila pushed their Phase II opening up to 2018 and delayed Resorts World Bayside until 2020. Controversy continues over turning the Army Navy Club historical site into a casino. In addition to the behemoth Okada Manila, two new casinos have opened; one in Chinatown and one in Clark, and Bloomberry's announced that they plan to build a mass market casino in Quezon City to compliment their Solaire casino in Entertainment City. The government has also vowed to institute anti-money laundering policies for casinos after about a quarter of an $81m cyber bank heist found its way into Philippine casinos in 2016. In March Pagcor announced that they had authorized a $500 Million Integrated Casino Resort on the central island of Cebu - the first outside of Manila.
Prominent casinos in the Philippines
The first casino you'll see when flying into the Philippines is Resorts World Manila, next to Ninoy Aquino (Manila) International Airport. It was also the Philippines' first integrated casino resort, with a soft launch in August 2009. The other most prominent casinos in the country are located in Entertainment City on Manila Bay in Parañaque, Metro Manila. Bloomberry's Solaire was the first to open there on March 16, 2013, followed by Melco Crown's City of Dreams Manila which held a soft opening in late 2014 with a grand opening on Feb 2, 2015.
The latest integrated resort to open in Entertainment City is Universal Entertainment/Tiger Resorts' Okada Manila (formerly Manila Bay Resorts). The last of four casino resorts scheduled to open there is Travellers' (Genting/Alliance Global) Resorts World Bayshore in 2020.
Here is our mid-2017 update for the Philippines casino industry and current status of each gambling jurisdiction:
The casinos and gambling jurisdictions of the Philippines
As of mid-late 2017, there were still four gambling jurisdictions in the country. In addition to PAGCOR and its new Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) licenses; the PCSO, CEZA, and APECO are authorized by the government to administer some form of gambling. The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) administers lotteries. The Cagayan Special Economic Zone (CEZA) administers gaming in the Cagayan Valley, including Santa Ana on Luzon Island. The Aurora Special Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APECO) was created in 2007 and became a gambling jurisdiction in 2010. No casinos have been built yet in the jurisdiction located seaside in Aurora, now part of the Quezon province. All jurisdictions except Charity Sweepstakes are authorized to run casino gaming themselves as well as grant licenses to other entities. PAGCOR has struggled to usurp the authority of all other jurisdictions since Duterte came to power but has met limited success as it attempts to assert authority over other authorized gambling jurisdictions in the country. In July a fight was brewing in the legislature to strip Pagcor of all licensing authority with key figures arguing that gambling is illegal in the Philippines and that Pagcor was created via presidential decree rather than a legal process.
Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR)
Pagcor is by far the most prolific of the jurisdictions with casinos of its own through 2017, the responsibility for overseeing other properties it grants licenses to, and the massive Entertainment City in Metro Manila. Entertainment City is located right next to Mall of Asia or MOA, the busiest mall anywhere in Asia. Each of the four projects already opened or under construction in Entertainment City will cost at least US$1 billion to create and open.
Pagcor's contribution to the overall casino count in the Philippines makes the country second only to Macau for the total number of casinos in Asia. Pagcor owns and operates under several brands such as Casino Filipino and the Pagcor Clubs but is slated to divest ownership interest in all casinos before 2018.
Resorts World Manila was built on part of a former military camp and has four hotels, 323,000 sq ft of casino floor space spread over several gaming areas, a shopping mall with more than 50 shops and nearly 30 eateries, several cinemas, in-casino restaurants, clubs and a 1,500 seat performing arts theater. The country's inaugural integrated resort is owned and operated by Travellers International Hotel Group, Inc. (TIHGI), which is a joint venture between Genting Hong Kong and Alliance Global Group. The company plans to double hotel, gaming, and entertainment space at Resorts World Manila before the end of 2018.
Pagcor Entertainment City
The Philippine's pride and joy in terms of gambling and casinos is the Entertainment City project in Parañaque, set with a beautiful backdrop that includes sunsets over Manila Bay. This small area boasts the most luxurious casino resorts in the Philippines. Entertainment City is right next to the Mall of Asia (the largest mall in Asia) and an amusement park for the kids.
In 2008 Pagcor awarded four companies provisional licenses to operate integrated resorts (IR) on a 100 hectare (about 240 acres) land plot on Manila Bay, now called Entertainment City. Each of them made a commitment of at least US$1 billion to their individual projects. At full build-out, now expected to be 2020, Entertainment City will have 5,000 hotel rooms, enough to accommodate well over a million visitors each year. There will be over a million sqm of shopping, gaming, entertainment, convention, and hotel space. In addition to tax revenues, the economy will be buoyed with the vast majority of employees being hired locally. One operator, Melco Crown (City of Dreams) committed to a 95% local workforce. Another, Okada Manila, plans to hire and train 8,000 people. The concessionaires are also required to source construction materials, furniture and fixtures from local suppliers.
Of the $1 billion commitment, licensees must invest at least US$650 million. Each IR has to offer at least 800 hotel rooms. Each has to develop at least a quarter million sqm (over two and a half million sq ft) of floor space and no more than 7.5% can be devoted to gaming. Each IR at Entertainment City will also have a minimum of 20,000 square meters (215,278 sq ft) of retail space, and invest at least US$20 million in a thematic attraction.
Solaire Resort & Casino was the first resort to open in PAGCOR's Entertainment City by Manila Bay. The property was designed by architect and designer Paul Steelman of Las Vegas-based Steelman Partners. Covering 8.3 hectares (21 acres), the resort hosts two 17 story 5 star hotels with a total of 800 guestrooms, villas and suites, 18,500 square meters (199,000 sq ft) of casino gaming space holding 360 tables and 1620 slots, convention and meeting facilities, 60,000 square meters of retail space, dining and retail areas, entertainment venues and the 1,740 seat "Theatre at Solaire".
City of Dreams Manila, the sister-resort to City of Dreams Macau, opened Phase I in stages between December 14, 2014, and February 2, 2015. The resort offers 940 rooms over 3 hotel towers including Hyatt, Nobu Hotel, and Crown Towers, along with 20,000 sq m (216,355 sq/ft) of casino space, specialty restaurants, bars, and a multi-level car park. A big draw for Filipinos are the 2 world-class nightclubs; Pangaea and Chaos located in the "Fortune Egg" dome.
Okada Manila opened Phase I of IV in mid-November 2016 with the casino portion opening in Feb. 2017. Eventually, there will be 500 mass and VIP gaming tables and 3,000 slots. The project stumbled and stalled until Japanese pachinko billionaire, Kazuo Okada found a local investment partner in Tonyboy Cojuangco, and his All Season Hotel and Resort Corp. In total Okada plans to invest $4b in the project and has been looking to invest in the country's infrastructure such as a new international airport planned for Manila.
Phaze I of the 44-hectare (108-acre) Okada Manila gaming and leisure complex opened with two 15 story hotel towers and over 990 rooms, villas, and suites. The towers are connected by a sky bridge. The resort features a wide range of restaurants, commercial facilities, residences, a pool with sandy beaches under a giant glass dome, and a dancing fountain and light display to rival the greatest in the world.
Resorts World Bayshore is taking a little longer than developers planned to open as they have been working on Phase II of RW Manila and expanding into a venture attached to the new casino resort dubbed West Side City in association with MegaWorld. The "residential entertainment city" will have housing units, an up-market shopping mall, and a grand opera house seating up to 3,000. The company has not released estimates on casino square footage, table, or machine counts. The main casino resort opening has been pushed to 2020. Accommodations will include at least 1,500 hotel rooms and suites from Westin Hotel (Starwood Asia Pacific Hotels and Resorts Group) Hotel Okura Manila (Okura Hotels and Resorts) a Genting Grand and a Crockfords Tower (Genting Group) and a Kingsford Hotel. Keep an eye on World Casino News for any developments.
Other casinos under Pagcor jurisdiction
In 2007 Pagcor was granted the right to delegate licenses and in addition to Resorts World and the participants at Entertainment City, at least seven additional casino brands including Thunderbird casinos, Fontana, Royce, and Casablanca casino brands were opened before 2015 along with Winford Casino and Midori Clark in 2016. Pagcor also gave management contracts to Philweb to operate over 280 local internet server based casino cafes under the E-Games brand. The licenses of 124 of them are currently not renewed after expiring July 1. As of June 2017, Philweb was told by Pagcor chair Andrea Domingo, that it could only be involved in one element of the business if they wanted to reopen and must choose to be a game provider, game station owner, or audit service provider but not all three. That, of course, could also change any minute. Pagcor also oversees online bingo and bingo parlors under management contracts. Outside of Manila check out Clark and Angeles City. In the fall of 2016, Pagcor extended its reach into the gaming industry's revenue stream by issuing its first Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) licenses.
"Clark" is the Clark Freeport Zone, a redevelopment of the former U.S. airbase that closed in 1991 due to a nearby volcanic eruption. It's situated on the northwest side of Angeles City and on the west side of Mabalacat City about 40 miles from Metro Manila. There are multiple casinos inside and outside the borders of Clark, some with very nice hotels. Depending upon a presidential whim, Clark could become the international gateway to the Philippines if Duterte decides not to favor a renewed Manila Int'l Airport.
Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO)
The PCSO was created in 1935 and by the 1950's held monthly draws. They launched their first online lottery sales in 1995. They also run bingo and keno. The small town lottery service (SLT) was launched in 1987 in an attempt to stamp out “jueteng" and other illegal underground numbers games.
Cagayan Special Economic Zone (CEZA)
The economic zone came into existence in 1995 and has since delegated land based and online casino licensing to two corporations. North Cagayan Gaming and Amusement Corporation (North Cagayan) is responsible for land-based and online casino licenses, and First Cagayan Leisure and Resort Corporation (First Cagayan) handles online licensing. Neither of these administrators answers to any government agency except CEZA when deciding to grant a license, and Pagcor has no legal control over their activities. This has not stopped them from 'looking into' CEZA operations and more news is likely to occur before 2018.
North Cagayan has the legal capacity to act as master licensor for land-based, online and virtual games of chance, sports books, poker, bingo, lotteries, and more. As of August 2016, the company listed some 38 operators and 28 "support service partners".
First Cagayan "monitors over 50 operators" and has issued over 135 licenses according to their website.
Before the election of Duterte, most Asian-facing online casinos were licensed in the CEZA due to the reputation of the licensor, an excellent high-speed internet infrastructure, low gaming taxes, a skilled workforce, and more. However, it is now unclear how many pulled the plug and relocated when the business landscape became unstable.
Aurora Special Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APECO)
According to the Supreme Court of the Philippines, APECO has been granted authority, "To operate on its own, either directly or through a subsidiary entity, or license to others, tourism-related activities, including games, amusements and nature parks, recreational and sports facilities such as casinos, online game facilities, golf courses and others under priorities and standards set by the APECO," according to G.R. No. 177333.
The land area here, although idyllic and potentially attractive to investors and visitors, is undeveloped for the most part and lacks infrastructure including adequate transportation, a robust network of high-speed communications, and basic services. No immediate development beyond the issuance of a few online casino licenses is expected. When land development does occur it will be strictly regulated to comply with eco-tourism standards.
Available Casino Games in the Philippines
A good mix of traditional and Asian-centric games are available across all the casinos in the Philipines. At a minimum, you'll finds slots in the Pagcor clubs, bingo and keno in the bingo halls. Other games include Baccarat, Black Jack, Roulette, Craps, Bingo, Big and Small, Pai-Gow, Stud Poker, and Sic Bo. In many casinos, you'll also find Red and White, Casino War, Super Six, Pontoon, Jazzbeme Baccarat, Rapid Roulette, and even some Electronic Horse Racing. Texas Hold'em players will find over 20 dedicated poker clubs and poker rooms in casinos.
Parimutuel and sports betting in the Philippines
Enthusiasts have three race tracks to enjoy live races and place bets. The Metro Manila Turf Club, San Lazaro Park, and Santa Ana Park. While there are no laws specifically outlawing race and sports books, many of the country's legally licensed betting shops were operated by Asian Logic's MegaSportsWorld out of Philweb locations - their fates are unclear as of early October. Metro Manila Turf Club and Manila Jockey Club operate over 600 OTB's between them, mostly in metropolitan areas.
Casinos and Gambling Facts
Philippines is a country in East Asia with legal gambling.
There are 33 cities with gambling facilities in Philippines which have 66 legal gambling facilities available in total.
The types of gambling available in Philippines are: casinos, horseracing tracks, sportsbetting parlours.
The largest gambling city in Philippines is Manila with 13 gambling facilities, 670 tables games, 4,741 gaming, slot, and video poker machines.
The largest casino in the entire country of Philippines is Okada Manila which is located in Parañaque. Okada Manila has 500 table games, 3,000 gaming and video poker machines.
Philippines Casino List
- Poker Room
- Slot Machines : 264
- Poker Room
- Slot Machines : 264
- Poker Room
- Slot Machines : 1,680
- Table Games : 365
- Off Track Betting
- Slot Machines : 250
- Off Track Betting
- Slot Machines : 250
- Off Track Betting
- Off Track Betting
- Poker Room
Philippines Casino Statistics
Table games: 2,600
Slot machines: 17,432
Poker tables: 104
Jai Alai: 1
Off Track Betting: 4
Horse Racing: 3
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