The Philippines President Rodrigo R. Duterte has launched an aggressive campaign to crack down on drug trafficking and clean up the gambling industry in the county. The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) decided to go after PhilWeb Corp which was the largest provider of e-bingo and e-games to the local population.
PhilWeb Corp, which is owned by Philippine billionaire Roberto Ongpin, was unable to renew its gaming license after Andrea Domingo, the chair of PAGCOR declined the license renewal at the behest of the Duterte. The President stated that both Ongpin and PhilWeb Corp were making a lot of money by targeting poor Filipinos who continued to gamble in the hopes of winning big money and having a better life. The non-renewal of PhilWeb Corp’s gaming license is expected to cost nearly 5,000 employees their jobs.
PhilWeb Corp and Ongpin have put forward a number of proposals to PAGCOR in an effort to get the company’s license renewed but none of those proposals have succeeded so far in getting the decision reversed. One of those proposals included the introduction of a mobile lottery betting system called PAGCOR Text Bonanza. The lottery system would enable bettors to text message their chosen lottery numbers to PhilWeb-PAGCOR servers by using the services of mobile operators in the country.
PhilWeb Corp stated that by approving the PAGCOR Text Bonanza lottery system, the company could continue to operate and provide employment to nearly 5,000 Filipinos. However Domingo rejected this proposal stating that while it was tough to see so many of the company’s employees lose their jobs, there was nothing that PAGCOR could do to help them other than inviting them to apply for whatever positions were currently available with the state gaming regulator.
Ongpin had earlier stated that he was willing to give up his P20-billion estimated PhilWeb Corporation shares to PAGCOR in an effort to fund President’s Duterte’s campaign on drugs.
In a statement, Ongpin said “While one could agree that gambling is undesirable, nothing could be more precocious than drug menace which destroys the very fabric of our youth and our society and which admirably, the President has chosen to be his first priority. I am a firm believer in the President’s drive against the drug menace. And as he has pointed out, the elimination of drug lords and drug pushers will not succeed unless this is complemented by an effective drug rehabilitation program”.
PhilWeb Corp is yet to respond to the rejection of the PAGCOR Text Bonanza proposal and recently filed a statement with the Philippine Stock Exchange stating that it was forcing 216 employees on leave while it continues to work with PAGCOR to see if it can renew its gaming license.