The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the Philippines and its vibrant offshore gaming industry. A total of 22 Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) were shut down last week with the assistance of PAGCOR, the country’s gaming regulator, with the watchdog citing the global health crisis as the reason behind its decision. This was confirmed for Inside Asian Gaming, a regional media outlet that covers the gambling industry in Asia.
POGOs Numbers Fall Due to Pandemic
The regulator published a list of companies that will no longer be authorized to conduct any business. The list was compiled by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) with at least six of the named entities having failed to undergo obligatory registration with the AMLC. According to ASGAM, PAGCOR confirmed that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were to blame for the more conservative approach in issuing POGO licenses.
Many foreign workers fled the country during the pandemic between March and May 2020, fearing discrimination when seeking health services locally in case they contracted the COVID-19 infection. Then, the subsequent ban on travel to the Philippines further precipitated the issue. The results are evident, as the pre-pandemic levels fell from 63 in 2019 to just 26 in 2022.
POGOs are not very likely to re-expand in the foreseeable future, although it still remains a possibility. However, for any uptake in POGO licenses to take place, there would need to be a strong return in consumer interest and travel to the country. PAGCOR is fairly confident about the industry outlook in general, citing the current operational capacities.
PAGCOR Foresees Strong Uptake in Gambling Revenue
Not all is lost for the gambling industry in the Philippines. In fact, PAGCOR chair and CEO Andrea Domingo is confident that a strong recovery is coming in 2022. The chief executive expects the industry to double its revenue this year. She spoke at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay virtual forum earlier this week and laid out some of the positive developments she expects to see in the coming months.
Total revenue should be anywhere between PHP 25 billion and PHP 30 billion ($478 million to $574 million) by June this year, she assured. The end-of-the-year projections are set at PHP 60 billion to PHP 65 billion ($1.15 billion to $1.24) billion. Doubling the revenue is within the realm of possibility, Domingo argues.