Following newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte’s vow last week to stop the proliferation of online gambling in the Philippines, the country’s gaming regulator, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), said that the processing of online gambling licenses will be temporarily halted.
Only hours after being sworn in last Thursday, the country’s 16th President and member of the PDP-Laban political party said that “sometime” soon he would be directing Andrea Domingo, who Duterte selected in May to head PAGCOR, to rescind existing online gambling licenses. The 71-year-old Duterte cited the difficulty in taxing online gambling as the main reason for his decision, during a televised cabinet meeting last Thursday.
In an interview, Domingo, who was a member of Duterte’s election campaign team and replaced Cristino Naguiat Jr as the head of PAGCOR, told local media, “For now, we will freeze the issuance of licenses for these types of games, and then review what the President said,” according to Asia Gaming Brief.
In the wake of Duterte’s announcement, shares of gaming technology provider PhilWeb Corp (WEB.PS), plummeted 22.13 percent to P19 per share, the lowest the company’s stock has been in 14 months. A three-day trading suspension has been sought by the company, and in a letter to the Philippine Stock Exchange dated July 3, the company’s Corporate Information officer Raymund S. Aquino said, “In view of unverified material information affecting the business of PhilWeb that will materially affect the investing public, we hereby request for a trading suspension in PhilWeb shares from July 4 to July 6.”
The “unverified material information” which prompted the trading suspension request was not specified by PhilWeb, however, on Friday shares in the company fell by P5.40 or 22.13% to P19. The decline has been attributed by analysts to Duterte’s directive to PAGCOR to revoke existing online gambling licenses in the country. On July 11 this year, the gaming operator’s contract with PAGCOR is due to expire.