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Casino Games in the Philippines

After Vegas and Macau, Manila is betting on casinos

Daniel Negreanu poker champion If you love to play games and win money, then the Philipines could be your next destination.

In the Philippines, a populous mostly Catholic archipelago of Southeast Asia, they are building cathedrals where the devil gets open table: mega-casinos flanked by flashy hotels, on the model of those that made fortunes in Las Vegas or Macao. From mahjong to baccarat on the screens of their smartphones, Asians are avid players.

They should earn around $80 billion this year in the sector, according to the audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. Macau casinos represent the majority of the global market with 44 billion dolars in 2014, far ahead of the famous "Strip" of Las Vegas with 6.3 billion and Singapore with 6 billion. But Macau, the only Chinese territory to allow gambling, faces the operation "clean hands" launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping to curb corruption of elites and boost the image of the communist party.

The future of Macau

The slowing down of the Chinese economy also plays its role and President Xi prompted his citizens to turn to other engines of growth. The rich millionaire players able to bet the price of a Rolls on a roulette spin are deserting the former Portuguese colony whose gaming revenues are expected to contract to 30 billion US dollars this year, according to the Philippines gouvernement.

Philippines estimates for their part are displaying an insolent growth: the three institutions in the country, all located in the capital Manila, have generated revenues of $2.2 billion in 2013, $2.5 billion in 2014 and the public monopoly of games named PAGCOR expects $3 billion for last year. According to a managing director of the financial firm First Grade Holdings, this can only continue as the sector is very attractive and it is just beginning to attract large portfolios.

Manila has two complex dedicated to the game: the Resorts World Manila opened in 2009, and Entertainment City. Implanted in Manila Bay in the heart of a special economic zone, Entertainment City aims to become by 2020 the first destination for gambling and entertainment in Southeast Asia with an expected turnover of $7 billion US. Its first two casinos opened in the last twelve months and two others must rise from the land in the next few years to come

The Philipines gambling ambitions

Lawrence Ho, son of Macau casino magnate Stanley Ho, signed a big check to join in the construction of the "City of Dreams", inaugurated in February 2015. His goal is to find the best opportunities in Asia and the economy of the Philippines is one of the most dynamic in the world, with growth of 6.1% in 2014.

JP Morgan believes that Filipino casinos could show combined revenues of $4.5 billion by 2018 and 5 to 5.5 billion dollars by 2020, a few chips from the "Strip". The Philippines has several important strengths: their geographical proximity to China, attractive prices in hotels and restaurants, but also beaches and first-class seabed that could boost combining game and stays there for enjoying the sun and beach.

Furthermore casinos are also taxed less than their regional competitors, the advertising of gambling establishments is legal, and the authorities do not pose any obstacle to their attendance by locals, unlike South Korea (near-total ban), Malaysia (prohibition for Muslims) or Singapore (with prohibitive entry fees).

A financial analyst at CLSA however identified two challenges: (1) the low level of investment in infrastructure between Manila airport and the resorts, and (2) general safety. The Chinese indeed place the Philippines in fourth position of countries to avoid, but after Iraq and before Afghanistan and Somalia, according to a recent survey by CLSA. They are especially marked by the death of eight Hong Kong tourists killed in a hostage situation in Manila in 2010.

Some analysts believe that neither the Philippines nor Singapore or South Korea will necessarily benefit from Macau disappointments. Macau's dominant position will not really be threatened in the near future, they believe, as the Chinese migration from Macau casinos to Philippine casinos is exaggerated. Especially as experts predict a return to growth in Macau casinos in 2016.

But no matter what, remember there will always be more versions of all of your favorite games, like blackjack, roulette, keno, slots, backgammon and others, online. That is why if you do not have the time or money to fly to Macau or Manila today, just head online to for the thrill of the games.



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