Manila Casinos Get Green Light to Reopen at 30% Capacity

  • PAGCOR has yet to make an official announcement on the resumption of gambling activity
  • Apparent August 24 directive allows PAGCOR-licensed casinos in certain areas to reopen
  • Permission effective immediately, but operators need time to meet new guidelines 
  • Four major casino resort operators in Manila saw losses totaling $271.4m during Q2
flag of the Philippines pinned on the country's map
Some of the major casinos and integrated resorts in Manila in the Philippines are set to resume gambling activity at 30% capacity. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Resuming business as usual

Some casinos and integrated resorts in Manila have obtained permission to reopen at 30% capacity following their mandated COVID-19 closure. The country’s gaming regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), is yet to make an official announcement on the resumption of business activity in the sector. 

The parent company of Melco Resorts, Melco International Development Ltd, has already confirmed its reopening. In a financial results announcement on August 28, it said it has been preparing to resume operations in accordance with the terms and conditions of new guidelines. The report stated: “On 24 August 2020, the Philippine government allowed Pagcor-licensed casinos in areas covered by the general community quarantine to operate at 30-percent operational capacity.”

go-ahead with immediate effect

According to Inside Asian Gaming, other operators of integrated resorts in Manila have been given a similar go-ahead with immediate effect. Companies reportedly said they need time to meet the strict new guidelines before reopening. 

Trial runs for casinos, IRs

PAGCOR has confirmed to GGRAsia that local governments are now able to issue permits to certain casinos and integrated resorts to resume on a trial basis, subject to strict health and safety rules. The facilities located in areas where there is still enhanced community quarantine or lockdown will not be able to reopen. 

PAGCOR also highlighted that the operations of the different casinos will depend on whether the current COVID-19 pandemic situation changes. 

Casinos in Manila have been shut for the most part since March 15. There have been some “dry runs” allowed by PAGCOR in recent times, with only invited and in-house guests able to take part in gambling activity. The trial reopenings helped generate millions of dollars for some of the bigger casinos.

Gambling operations hit hard

Metro Manila houses most of the major casino resorts in the Philippines’ National Capital Region. The four major gaming operators located in the area were hit hard by the pandemic, with each reporting significant losses during the second quarter of the year.

combined losses amount to $271.4m

Solaire posted a loss of $96.2m, Resorts World Manila was down $75.9m, Okada Manila’s revenue declined by $49.9m, while Melco Resorts’ City of Dreams Manila lost $49.4m. The combined losses amount to $271.4m. The Metro Manila area has seen an easing of pandemic restrictions in recent weeks.

Certain Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) were able to restart operations in June, but some have been forced to close permanently because of the devastating economic effects of the pandemic.

Even with the four major operators having to operate at 30% capacity, they will still be able to offer patrons a total of 2,526 slot machines and 420 table games.