Pagcor, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation who owns and operates casinos and delegates land based casino licenses in the most populated areas of the country, may be getting into the online gambling business by offering licenses to outward facing operators. There are already as many as 75-100 online casinos operating under license from other gambling jurisdiction in the Philippines; namely North Cagayan Gaming and Amusement Corporation (North Cagayan) and First Cagayan Leisure and Resort Corporation (First Cagayan).
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte who took office in 2016 has taken a new and potentially damaging approach the gambling industry there. The President who launched a massive crackdown on drug trafficking has also turned his attention to the gambling industry and recently instructed Pagcor not to renew the license of Philweb Corp. The company which is owned by Roberto Ongpin, one of the richest men in the country, had an exclusive license to operate e-games and e-bingo across nearly 300 cafes, employing about 6,000 people.
President Duterte stopped the license renewal stating Ongpin and his company was making significant profit from the losses incurred by the local market. Pagcor has also confirmed that it will not renew the gaming licenses of other e-games and e-bingo operators. The crackdown on the e-games and e-bingo industry is expected to cost the country around $215 in gaming revenue losses.
In order to offset these losses, the country has decided to experiment Pagcor offering online gambling licenses. The Philippines is expected to issue licenses for online gambling operators who want to offer services to overseas players only. Pagcor is yet to confirm how many online gambling licenses will be issued or the licensing fee that operators will be required to pay.
Andrea Domingo who heads Pagcor confirmed that the government wants gambling operators to target offshore gamblers instead of the local market and will experiment with the idea of granting online gambling licenses for a period of six months. While Domingo could not confirm on the licensing fees, she did state that the charges will be very high.
In a statement, Domingo said “We’re readying the application forms. It’s no longer the Filipinos who are betting but foreigners. We don’t know yet how sale-able it is. There might be no takers, or there could be many applicants. If it is profitable then we will fine tune”.
Domingo stated that the licensing process will be very transparent and awarded on a first come first serve basis. Based on the six month performance of the online gambling industry, Pagcor will decide on license renewals.
This story has been updated to reflect that the Philippines already offers online licensing through the Cagayan Special Economic Zone (CEZA). It’s unclear what, if any effect the entry of Pagcor into the market will have.