2021 Philippine Cup Suspended As Online Gambling Surges

After a delayed start to the 2021 PBA season, the Philippine Cup got off to an interesting start.

Shooting and scoring were both down, San Miguel Beermen superstar June Mar Fajardo was playing in a low-key, reserved manner coming off injury, and the players in general seemed tentative at best.

Of course, now that the PBA has entered its first suspension of play due to new coronavirus restrictions, it seems clear why the league was operating with a sense of hesitation.

While the Philippine Cup is a mere 11 games long (before the conference quarterfinals begin), play has been halted after just 4-6 games, with the most recent matchups taking place August 1.

The league is working with the Inter Agency-Task Force (IATF) of the Philippines government to find new venues outside of designated COVID hotspots, and players and staff have expressed the desire to do whatever it takes to keep the season going.

That relocation effort appears to be in the works, though the exact date of the 2021 PBA restart is TBA.

For PBA fans, that’s a big loss.

But for PBA betting fans, it’s an even bigger one.

Of course, there are numerous other leagues and sports to wager on at legal offshore betting sites, which should provide something of an outlet while the Philippine Cup approaches its restart.

Speaking of COVID and online betting, online gambling of all kinds is on the rise not just in the Philippines, but worldwide.

According to a brand-new Fortune Business Insights report, global online gambling revenue hit an all-time high in 2020, which – given the coronavirus outbreak – was completely expected.

With physical venues closing, patrons flocked to online alternatives.

The market size grew from $58.9 billion USD in 2019 to $66.7 billion in 2020, representing a significant year-over-year gain of 13.24%. From 2020 to 2021, the total haul went up another 11.17% to $74.17 billion.

The movement in the Philippines market specifically is unreported, but the model employed there is indicative of the industry’s approach everywhere.

To wit, the Philippines saw lockdown mandates decimate their retail casino revenues, and they quickly legalized limited online iGaming to combat that downturn.

Granted, all indications are that casinos in the islands suffered intensely during COVID despite this online expansion, but such is due to a slow domestic rollout of iGaming via so-called PIGOs (Philippine Inland Gaming Operators) as well as restrictions of PIGO services to established brick-and-mortar “VIP” gamblers.

Generally speaking, however, most casinos have made their wares available online during the pandemic provided they operated in regions that allowed such.

Meanwhile, many other regions with no such laws, such as the majority of US states, used COVID to address (and in some cases legalize) online casino games and online sports betting.

But even though upwards of 10 states now have laws allowing both markets (online sportsbooks are far more politically correct than online casinos in America), the rollouts thereof take time and are not going to be reflected in the numbers cited above.

However, those numbers will be reflected in figures for 2022, 2023, and beyond.

And by then, it’s very likely that the Philippines, too, will have figured out how to make domestic gambling as accessible as possible not just for VIP casino patrons, but also for the everyman in the islands.

Per the above report, the online gambling industry is projected to hit $158.2 billion by 2028 at the current rate of growth (and accounting for various probable regional hurdles).

Unsurprisingly, one of the drivers of that growth is going to be Southeast Asia, with the Philippines being in prime position to take advantage of a fully integrated online and destination gambling marketplace.

Before the pandemic, after all, Entertainment City in Manila was considered to be a contender to become the world’s foremost holiday gambling hotspot, eclipsing both Las Vegas and Macau in gaming handle.

With the help of expanded online casino gaming, as long as the tables are available to everyone, that destination gaming status is still on the table.

It should be noted that the above figures do not include services offered by legal offshore casinos, sportsbooks, and online poker rooms.

Such sites remain safe and legal for all Filipino gamblers, and there is no indication that Philippine legislators are interested in outlawing these as the local market goes full steam ahead.

Source: Fortune Business Insights