Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said he was unhappy with e-bingo and e-gaming establishments in the country targeting poor Filipinos and making profits out of their losses. He instructed the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) to not renew the gaming licenses of PhilWeb, the biggest e-gaming provider in the Philippines which operated 286 gaming cafes.

The shutdown of the e-gaming industry in the Philippines is expected to cost the country around P10 billion in annual revenue. In order to offset these major losses, the government has instructed Pagcor to regulate online gambling from their jurisdiction. The online casinos will not be accessible to locals. PAGCOR recently announced that it had begun the process of issuing offshore gaming licenses and invited interested parties to send in their applications.

Gaming operators in any country are eligible to apply for an offshore gaming license in the Philippines. The new Pagcor administered online licensor, joining jurisdictions in other parts of the country that already issue licenses, will be known as Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO). Businesses must pay $40,000 to apply for a sports betting license and $50,000 for an online casino license application.  When the license is approved, the operator will have to pay an additional $150,000 for the sports betting license and $200,000 for the online casino license.

In a statement, PAGCOR said “Authorized players of these offshore gaming offerings must be foreigners based in another country. Foreign nationals who are staying in the Philippines and Filipinos residing abroad are not allowed to take part in the online gaming activity. Likewise, individuals who are under 21 years old are not allowed to play.”

The online gambling industry will be carefully monitored to ensure that all regulations are being complied with. PAGCOR has confirmed that a special Task Force POGO will be formed. The task force will be made up of key executives from the Bureau of Immigration, National Bureau of Investigation and PAGCOR.

Andrea Domingo the head of PAGCOR stated that only 25 applications will be processed during the first six months as PAGCOR wants to analyze each application carefully and ensure that there is no glitch in the vetting process. Domingo stated that this initiative will help PAGCOR create a new revenue stream that will make up for the losses incurred by the e-gaming industry and at the same time will protect the welfare of the local population.

PAGCOR also stated that the offshore gaming license is not a vested right and cannot be transferred to another party. The license could be canceled or suspended at any point of time by PAGCOR’s board of directors, should they find that the operator had violated any of the stipulated online gambling laws or broken any rules that were part of the licensing process.