Philippines gaming regulator PAGCOR’s move to officially sell its casinos is predicted to be hampered by the growing number of domestic players moving from PAGCOR casinos to integrated resorts in Manila and Clark, according to research by Maybank Securities.
Difference between gross gaming income between PAGCOR’s casinos and Manila and Clark IRs:
In a note on Tuesday that provided insight into the gross gaming income of the Philippine gaming industry in the first quarter of 2023, Maybank analyst Miguel Sevidal noted “a significant increase in the market share of the nation’s licensed casinos, with Manila’s Entertainment City seeing share rise from 70% five years ago (1Q18) to 80% in the first quarter of 2023, while Clark has risen from 5% to 12% over the same period. By comparison, market share held by PAGCOR casinos dropped from 24% in 1Q18 to 8% in 1Q23.” He added: “This suggests some movement by domestic players from PAGCOR’s Casino Filipino outlets to the integrated resorts, and is consistent with our observation of Entertainment City’s increasing wallet share in recreation and entertainment spending by locals. This combination of decreasing market share and below-average industry growth make PAGCOR’s Php80 billion (US$1.44 billion) valuation expensive. These trends were seen again in 1Q23.”
Furthermore, as reported by Inside Asian Gaming, to PAGCOR President and CEO Alejandro Tengco, the privatization of PAGCOR casinos became the main objective of his mandate, which permitted the agency to de-focus on matters other than its regulatory role and remove concerns about conflicts of interest. But, analysts are concerned if the asking price is too high and warn that interest in buying the agency’s 41 casinos could be dampened.
Revival of the Philippine gaming industry:
However, aside from PAGCOR’s concerns, Sevidal emphasized that “the Philippines gaming industry as a whole is booming, with sector-wide GGR up 107% year-on-year and 21% quarter-on-quarter in 1Q23. Compared to the same quarter in 2019, Entertainment City GGR is up by 38% and Clark by 193%.”
In this regard, Sevidal said: “We retain our positive view on the Philippine gaming sector following 1Q23 results, which showed sustained industry GGR growth … outpacing the growth of state-run casinos.”
Headquartered in the Philippines, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) is owned and controlled by the government. It was founded by Presidential Decree 1869. In addition, PAGCOR is the biggest contributor of income to the government, after the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs.
It is administered by the Office of the President of the Philippines.