Hopes of salvaging the future of Philippine “online” games developer PhilWeb Corporation seem to be at an end after the nation’s regulator revealed that it was not likely to reconsider an earlier decision not to renew the firm’s now-expired license.
According to a report from the local ABS-CBN television network, the Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation decided last week following pressure from newly-elected president Rodigo Duterte not to renew PhilWeb Corporation’s license to offer software to online casinos.
As a result, hundreds of e-Games gaming cafes utilizing systems from PhilWeb Corporation have been forced to close despite a last-ditch meeting between the company’s chief, Dennis Valdes, and Andrea Domingo, chairperson for the Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation.
Valdes had earlier explained that PhilWeb Corporation works merely as a software provider to the Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation for the state-run firm’s network of e-Games outlets. He declared that each shop is consequently owned by individual entrepreneurs who receive their license direct from the regulator.
“We are not online gaming,” read a statement from Valdes. “Our software cannot be played from homes or offices.”
Valdes stated at the time that each e-Games outlet pays tax as does PhilWeb Corporation itself with the network contributing over $45 million to the state last year and in excess of $300 million since launching some 14 years ago.
PhilWeb Corporation’s failure to get its license renewed also followed the resignation of its Chairman, Roberto Ongpin, after President Duterte, who has suggested that the nation could soon completely outlaw all forms of online gambling, referred to him as an “oligarch”. In response, the businessman additionally announced that he would be holding an auction for the 53.76% stake he holds in the enterprise.
However, both moves failed to save the firm’s license with Domingo declaring that any new appeal would be considered on its merits but would not likely be approved.
“If it does come in, we will discuss it with the board but I think the pronouncement of the President on these types of gaming is very clear,” said Domingo. “[Duterte] does not want online gaming or hybrid games like this to proliferate in the country because it caters mostly to the indigent or needy people. Its audience are likely to be lower CDE [economic classes].”
Domingo explained that the Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation had not singled out Ongpin or PhilWeb Corporation for severe treatment while revealing that the regulator may soon shut over 100 e-Bingo stations sited within a 656-foot radius of schools and churches.
“I think what we’re going to do is probably just natural attrition since they would have ongoing licenses with us,” said Domingo. “So, were not renewing contracts or licenses anymore.”