When most people think of the premier location to gamble or enjoy the casino life in general in East Asia, it is usually Macau that comes to mind. With 24 casinos located on the Macau Peninsula and 17 on Taipa Island, it has become a destination spot for millions each year, including large numbers of people outside of China.
It seemed that Macau would go unchallenged in their dominance of the region, but Entertainment City Manila is changing that perception. As Nicholas Crouch writes, there is a great variety of licensed casino websites as well as physical locations in the Philippines, particularly in Manila. This is helping the city to become a destination that gamblers are finding most enjoyable, even choosing it over Macau.
The Philippines Are a Great Place to Visit
It is easy to understand why Entertainment City Manila is quickly becoming a hotbed for tourist activity. In general, the Philippines are one of the most beautiful destinations anyone can choose. It doesn’t matter whether you are looking for a family vacation, a romantic getaway, or just a little time to yourself, there are fantastic sites and attractions there, and the fact that it is cheap to enjoy most of those attractions adds to its allure.
Families love the Philippines because of the beautiful, sandy beaches, pristine water, and incredible events that all members of the family can enjoy. Couples love the opportunity to enjoy a second honeymoon, walking across the golden beaches, spending time out at a club, or taking in museums or visiting historic sites.
Those looking for a romantic encounter will enjoy the opportunity to meet people from across the globe. Bars, nightclubs, and other adult entertainment are available, ensuring that you don’t have to spend an evening by yourself if you choose not to.
In addition, the Philippines offers fantastic weather almost year-round. You can truly enjoy a day out on the beach or on the water or go hiking in the mountains or jungle regions without the fear of inclement weather. There are few destination places you will find that are as hospitable in terms of weather.
A Lot of Opportunities to Gamble
Of course, if visiting a casino is what you are looking for, then Manila is definitely a location that easily rivals anything Macau has to offer. The Manila gaming strip has helped the Philippines to become the fastest growing economy in Asia after China.
Since the creation of the City of Dreams casino-resort, Entertainment City Manila has created a gaming strip that is smaller than that of Las Vegas, but is every bit as enticing. With first rate casino and hotel accommodations, it is attracting high rollers from around the globe.
Already, 30% of gaming revenues come from Chinese VIPs who travel to Manila to enjoy the new accommodations. It is recognized that the vast majority of casino patrons come from the Philippines, which has still drawn in a significant amount of revenue for casino operators. “The economy is so good that we can make a profit through local customers only,” explained Okada Manila Chief Executive Jun Fujimoto.
Doing well is not good enough, however. The goal is to draw tourists from across the area, including places like Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Korea, among others.
Macau and Philippines – Comparison of casino locations
Top Five Casinos in Macau
|Casino Lisboa||190,000 sq ft casino, 1,000 hotel rooms, 107 slot machines, 146 gaming tables.|
|Altira Macau||550 slots, 220 tables, no hotel|
|MGM Macau||345 gaming tables, 1035 slot machines, 600 room hotel|
|Venetian Macau||3400 slot machines, 800 gaming tables, 600 room hotel, 550,000 sq ft casino space|
|Wynn Macau||375 slot machines, 212 gaming tables, 246,000 sq foot casino, 600 room hotel|
Top Five Casinos in Manila
|Resorts World Manila||Three floors of gaming area, connected to three major hotels|
|Solaire Resorts and Casinos||300 gaming tables, hotel|
|City of Dreams||365 gaming tables, 1,680 slot machines, 1,680 electronic gaming tables.|
|Midas Hotel and Casino||Owned and operated by PAGCOR|
|Casino Filipino – Pavillion||Newest gaming equipment and slot machines.|
What separates Macau from Manila in terms of accommodations is size. Macau has had casinos and resorts for a long longer duration of time, so they have larger facilities and have some of the top names in the industry involved with their casinos.
Manila is behind Macau in these areas, but they do offer state of the art facilities and equipment that would easily rival that of Macau. Plus, the costs involved in staying and enjoying one’s time in the city are far less than what one would pay in Macau.
One area where Manila is equal to Macau is in offering online options. With the current pandemic scaring many away from going to the casino, the website options have become the perfect replacement, and Manila has great websites available for consumers.
It is a much safer option for more reasons than this, however. For most on mainland China, using online gambling sites is illegal. That is not true in the Philippines. In fact, because of its close proximity, many in China actually use the Philippine based websites because they are safer and easier to use.
All the Latest Advancement Available
Besides beautiful luxury hotels and a large assortment of gaming tables and slot machines, Entertainment City Manila is having greater success because they are meeting the needs of patrons in all areas.
Explained Greg Unsworth, the head of the technology, media and telecommunications practice of PwC Singapore. “It helps to show that it’s a serious destination with great all-round facilities.”
The success has also come from an increased focus on improving infrastructure in the region. For years, Manila struggled to attract tourists because of the poor infrastructure, fears people had about their safety, and rampant corruption. That is no longer the case, as the Philippine government has invested a significant amount of its resources to improving the conditions, thus improving the reputation globally.
A Plan of Action Implemented to Perfection
In 2002, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., or Pagcor, was born. This governmental agency would be responsible for regulating all gaming activities within the country, including running one of the casinos.
The idea was hatched in the same year that Macau partnered with gaming operators from Las Vegas and Hong Kong to create an improved and elite gaming sector. This plan worked so well that it was not long before Macau was passing Las Vegas in terms of gaming revenues as tourists from across the globe flocked to the city.
It was also not long before South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore began opening their own facilities, all while the Philippines were still trying to get their house in order. While late to the table, the opportunity to watch and learn from what other nations did has helped Pagcor to develop a strategy that seems to be working well.
Already, gaming revenues in the Philippines have reached that of Singapore, which had three times the amount of revenue just seven years ago. With newer, premium facilities and an incredible culture, history, and infrastructure, the Philippines now finds itself as one of the significant players in the region despite the ongoing debates about the positives and negatives of casinos in general.
The Numbers Are Misleading
Many analysts will challenge the idea that Manila is in any way close in terms of stature to that of Macau. They will point to the fact that Macau takes in an annual revenue of over $45 billion while Manila is just reaching the $7 billion mark. That is a staggering disparity.
However, one must consider the progress that Manila has made in the last seven years. In less than a decade they have tripled their revenues and have increased their casino-resorts to four with state-of-the-art accommodations still in the development and construction phase.
Macau had a huge head start over Manila, but the Philippine region is growing rapidly. At its current pace, it may reach about 50% of the revenue that Macau takes in each year by the end of 2030. That would be a significant gain and would likely have a huge impact on Macau’s profits as well. There is no doubt that the powers that be in Macau will be paying close attention to what goes on in Manila. The question is if they can do anything to stop the tide of tourism to Manila?