Finally, the Philippines’ offline casino market is beginning its recovery path from coronavirus-related lockdowns that have paralyzed the industry throughout 2020.
With some casinos in remote areas across the island allowed to reopen with minimal capacity, news broke in March that Metro Manila, which has been in quarantine, began allowing all casino resorts to fall back into chaos.
Social distancing measures and stricter hygiene standards will be required, but at least the doors are open.
According to PAGCOR, if government agencies and regional branches approve each operator’s reopening plans, those locations could operate at severely reduced capacity for the time being.
In accordance with the PAGCOR statement on this plan:
“Integrated resorts and casinos licensed by local governments can be opened on a trial basis under the strictest health and safety regulations. Operations are limited to up to 30% capacity.”
This is not a comprehensive approval process.
Decisions on which casinos can reopen in the short term will be informed through the COVID-19 situation in Metro Manila and beyond.
Of course, Manila quarantine is not over.
President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday the Metro Manila area would remain in “general quarantine” as early as September 30.
This is good news for the Philippine gambling industry as a whole, but it is especially welcomed by major players in the Manila area, such as City of Dreams Manila, one of the most popular gaming and vacation spots across the Philippines.
A spokesperson for Melco Resorts & Entertainment, which owns the tourist attraction, said the company is “preparing for a normal resumption of operations under [PAGCOR’s] terms and conditions.”
Given that the city of dreams is a dream city for many gamblers around the world, speculation that the Philippines’ reopening is imminent supports its readiness to become a major casino gambling destination in Asia.
Macau, which, like the Philippines, has only 10 major resort casinos in its highly profitable gaming zone, is taking the title, but while the Philippines is growing the casino market at a furious pace, its growth has slowed considerably.
Although such arguments may be a little optimistic, the current Philippine gambling law seems to be designed to cater for growth rather than restrictions.
But we don’t expect Philippine lawmakers to act as radical as allowing free access to online gambling in the country. Casinos near the Philippines are already recommended.