Do The Duterte: Philippines to Issue License, Per PAGCORPublished December 6, 2016 by Lee R
When operators can start serving the Philippines remains unresolve
According to industry reports, Philippine gambling regulator (PAGCOR) has issued in the neighborhood of 35 online gambling licenses for offshore operations, with the number of new licensees launching Philippines-facing operations still to be determined.
The progress nonetheless remains a substantial turnaround from the stance of newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte, who when he took office in mid-2016 declared a war on practices he considered detrimental to society, expressing his intent to “destroy” certain individuals related to the local gambling industry.
Among the individuals targeted was leading iGaming cafe operators in the Philippines such as Philweb founder Roberto Ongpin, who was declared an oligarch by Duterte in denying Ongpin a renewal of his iGaming license. The resulting shutdown of all 286 PhilWeb facilities and operations left an estimated vacuum of tens of millions of dollars in eGames revenue that state-run PAGCOR said it would lose.
Change of Heart
Predictably, Duterte’s moralistic objections to gambling have rapidly softened since. The shift was initially evinced by PAGCOR’s September announcement of the possibility for online gambling operators to apply for licenses to operate offshore businesses catering to non-Philippino gambling customers located outside the country.
Licensing fees are $50,000 for online casino operation applicants and $40,000 for sports betting operations. A flat fee upon licensure of $150,000-$200,000 will be further tacked on as well.
According to regulatory guidelines, PAGCOR will monitor the activities of the approved licensees, with the regulator authorized to suspend or cancel any offshore gambling license for individual violations of license conditions.
The license will be valid for one year.
Kinder, Gentler Regulation
The turnaround began with the PAGCOR announcement that it was preparing to allow offshore gaming in the country, with the initial prohibitions against serving Philippines customers “meant to safeguard the welfare of the Philippinos (while) at the same time meet the agency’s revenue targets to help fund the government’s nation-building programs.”
Between the Lines
The artful phrasing clearly enabled the Duterte administration to save face after the initial brow-raising admonitions coming out of the gate. In the Philippines, if you want to get revenue from iGaming, you still have to play the other Game.