The Philippines is not just ahead of other new casino markets [like South Korea, Japan and Taiwan]; it also has several key benefits over the more established ones, according to Gustino De Marco, vice-president at the Hong Kong-based brokerage BTIG and a specialist in this area.
Firstly, it has a strong domestic demand and the type of games Filipinos like to play are the high risk-high reward games such as slot machines, which give better returns to the casino operator than card tables.
Another attraction is geography, with the Philippines only a few hours flight from China, Japan and South Korea, where most high-rolling Asian gamers come from.
And while it is near China, it is not under any kind of Chinese jurisdiction. So, unlike Macau, which in recent years has had to ramp up its gambling tax and impose certain visa restrictions on Chinese gamers, the Philippines is free to offer all the incentives it can.
But is it realistic for the Filipinos to expect the Chinese authorities* and patriotic Chinese to co-operate when the Filipino government is the most hawkish of all the ASEAN nations when it comes to territotial disputes with China? The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (a S’pore government statutory board thhin-tank) says in its inaugral ASEAN Monitor dated February 2012: Despite the weakness of its armed forces, the Philippines has assumed the role as the most outspoken of four Southeast Asian claimants against China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea. President Benigno Aquino has taken the lead in trying to rally ASEAN behind a common policy on the South China Sea, mainly to present a united front in negotiations with Beijing over acode of conduct. Defying threats from official Chinese media, Manila has encouraged the US to increase its military presence in the Philippines and supply the country with additional resources to patrol its waters … Will the Philippinegovernment maintain its hard line over the South China Sea, or prove as susceptible to China’s entreaties as some of its predecessors?
*They could make travelling to the Philippines inconvenient.