PAGCORP TIGHTENING UP ON INTERNET GAMBLING PERMITS
124 permits revoked as black market in licenses flourishes.
The Philippine Games and Amusement Corp. has revoked the permits of 124 online e-game outlets throughout the country for violation of its existing rules and regulations… specifically that the permit holders had no actual venues, The Manila Standard newspaper reported Friday.
Permits for a further 424 e-games and 302 e-bingo outlets will not be renewed, and no further licenses would be issued, the newspaper reported, quoting comments made at a media forum by PAGCOR chairperson Andrea Domingo.
Domingo explained to reporters that a black market in permits exists, with unscrupulous individuals paying P40,000 in permit fees, only to sell the permits on for "several millions of pesos".
The Philippines government earns about P8 billion to P9 billion a year (around US$190 million) from online gambling alone, Domingo revealed, commenting on the moratorium on the issue of online permits that she has imposed following a recent Cabinet statement by new national president Rodrigo Duterte that he intended to curtail online gambling.
Starting next year, PAGCORs contributions to government agencies will be consolidated through the Bureau of Treasury in the interests of transparency and accountability, and for inclusion in the national budget, Domingo said, explaining that certain government agencies frequently seek donations but are reluctant to account for how the money is spent.
In wider commentary, Domingo claimed that:
* PAGCOR delivers to the government the largest share of all state-owned assets;
* That a task force to combat illegal gambling is currently being assembled and will include police and other law enforcement agencies and;
* That a survey is being carried out of gambling venues and their proximity to schools, churches and other sensitive areas.
So far it is only organisations involved in offering services to Philippines residents that appear to be under scrutiny; international online gambling through the First Cagayan Leisure and Resort Corp in the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (who are not permitted to access Philippine players) have not so far been affected, but will no doubt be anxiously monitoring developments.
So will Philippines operators like Philweb and Leisure and Resorts who are directly impacted by the negative presidential statements and the resultant PAGCOR fall-out, and have seen their share prices decline.
Philweb is currently on borrowed time, having been granted a one-month extension of its expired licence, but faces an uncertain future.