Andrea Domingo, the CEO and chairperson for the Philipine gaming regulatory body PAGCOR gave the opening keynote for the SiGMA Virtual Roadshow
In her opening keynote, PAGCOR chairperson and CEO Andrea Domingo set the tone for the SiGMA Virtual Roadshow in Manila with a strong message of support for SiGMA’s initiatives, saying, “ I believe what SiGMA is doing is really very important to the industry.“
She went on to say that the virtual roadshow was ‘a testament to the gaming industry and its service provider’s flexibility and adaptability to the challenges of the global Covid-19 health crisis.’ An industry, which has been immensely affected, forcing many gaming businesses the world over to close for long periods of time, leaving them facing no or limited revenue and a lot of fixed costs and operational expenditures.
The Philippine gaming industry was not spared either, she said - explaining that there was significant all time decline in gross gaming revenues.
“The country’s gaming industry GGR in 2020 only reached 87.54 billion pesos or an equivalent of $1.81 billion - a very significant 59 percent decline from the 2019 industry GGR of $4.41billion.”
“At the onset of 2021, the Philippine gaming industry was doing its best to stay afloat by coming up with strategies and innovations to cope with the situation. Our main goal now is to keep our eleven thousand employees employed with full compensation and not to have any deficit or losses.
Watch her keynote from the SiGMA Virtual Roadshow (Manila) below:
Not easy ambitions. The volatility of the situation and changes to the area classification all over the Philippines has severely affected operations. Curfews are also sometimes ‘unreasonable’. As Domingo says, a 6pm curfew in Metro Manila is unfeasible, as ‘players are mostly night people.’
She is also sceptical about reports which offer positive outlooks for destination markets to begin recovering as online sectors enjoy upwards growth. Availability of vaccines are not controlled by the more advanced first world countries, and lockdowns are getting worse, she says. ‘We have to grapple with the fact that there are more infections now than before.’
“We are losing an average of GGR of 144 million a day - 55% of which comes from the licenced casinos.”
The way forward
Despite a more realistic viewpoint, she is optimistic: “We’re hoping the online gaming platforms will give the local gaming industry a chance to rise in this type of growth.
“As Covid-19 cases rise, we have to find ways to innovate and reach more diverse markets, both here and abroad. Before I said that we need regulation with competence and integrity - now we need another aspect - which is creativity and imagination.”
“Alongside the use of digital and online platforms - regulatory policies for offshore gaming operations must be strengthened. To protect the legitimate operators and help them preserve their revenues, we have forged a stronger partnership with the Office of the President, the Philippine National Police, the Bureau of Immigration, the National Bureau of Immigration - they are now actively carving illegal online gambling in the country.”
“I think it's very important to keep up with the fast-paced shift to the digital landscape. We have also introduced Live Shots, which means online betting - but those who could play would only be the VIP players in the integrated resorts and casinos.”
Moving forward, Domingo says that she believes, that despite the impact of the pandemic on the gaming sector, it will be a temporary situation they will overcome. ‘By the end of the year we should be able to meet our targets; to remain intact, to open up new venues, and help all our employees enjoy full benefits.’
She concludes, “With the help of the latest digital trends I think we have new paths created ahead of. As for the Philippine gaming industry we will export new markets, new products, using this kind of technology - which we think will probably dominate this industry in the next three to five years.”
Domingo appeared as 2020's SiGMA Magazine's spring cover story. Read her interview and others like it here.
SiGMA Roadshow: Next stop Germany
Join us virtually for two engaging hours bursting with insightful conference con-tent and new business opportunities. These unique, interactive, virtual mini-conferences will take place in a different country every month. Next stop is Germany, join the conversation. We'll be covering various topics from localisation of content to regulation trends. Register now!