President of The Philippines Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a halt on the entry and creation of new casinos, in an attempt to prevent an oversupply of gambling in one of East Asia’s fastest-growing markets.
According to a report from The Philippine Star, the order was issued last month but only revealed by Andrea Domingo, Chief Executive Officer for the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation regulator (Pagcor), during an interview at last week’s ICE Totally Gaming exhibition in London.
“The President told me on January 11 to freeze new casinos because there are just too many now,” Domingo told journalists. “After that, on January 13, we are no longer accepting applications for new casinos.”
The moratorium is however not expected to impact a plan from billionaire businessman John Gokongwei to construct a giant casino on a 44-acre plot near the southern city of Cebu City.
The first gaming enterprise from the nation’s second richest man could reportedly open as soon as 2022 after he secured a license before the implementation of the freeze via his Universal Hotels and Resorts Incorporated vehicle.
The Philippines, which has one of Asia’s most freewheeling gambling industries, recorded 88 billion pesos (£1.2 billion) in gross gaming revenues in the first half of 2017, up 12% from the year previous.
An outspoken critic of gambling, the partial freeze is the latest show of strength from a head of state renowned for ruling with an iron fist.