PAGCOR REVOKES MORE LICENSES
More details on expensive new licenses for operators who agree not to target Filipinos.
The Philippines regulator, state-owned Pagcor, has announced the license revocations of another 197 venues as it conforms with President Rodrigo Dutertes campaign against online gambling.
Our readers will recall that last month 286 e-games sites were closed down when the PhilWeb Corp. contract expired and Pagcor refused to renew it.
The latest revocations impact 120 e-Bingo sites, 40 e-Games sites, three Instawin sites and 16 ‘hybrid’ venues, according to local media reports.
In a statement on the revocations, Pagcor advised that the venues were situated in close proximity to schools and churches in violation of official guidelines. Some of the sites had also failed to develop their businesses within the 45 days required by their licenses, the regulator added.
In related news, the publication Inquirer.net reported that Pagcor has also announced that it is about to begin accepting letters of intent from applicants keen on acquiring an offshore gaming license provided they agree not to access Filipino internet punters.
In a press statement, Pagcor said an offshore gaming license may be granted to a Philippine-based operator or an off-shore based operator registered in any foreign country who will engage the services of a Pagcor-accredited service/support provider for its online gaming activity. Such operators will be referred to as Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs).
During the introductory six months of the new licensing initiative only 25 licenses will be issued, presumably to enable Pagcor to establish and settle the new regulatory regime.
Its going to be expensive to operate under a Pagcor license:
Application and processing fees for offshore gaming licenses are $50,000 for e-casino and $40,000 for sports betting, and upon approval of the license, the applicant will additionally pay an annual $200,000 for the actual e-casino license and $150,000 for a sports betting license. Licensees are also required to present a $250,000 performance bond.
The appropriate tax structure is not yet available, and until it is operators will be required to pay set levies during the initial six months of the scheme that includes:
Operators of live dealer casinos will face a $10 per table per month fee, along with a fee of $100,000 per venue. In the case of licensed operators who control their onw streaming studios, the fee will be $2,000 per table.
Traditional RNG online casinos will be required to cough up $100 per month per player, whilst sportsbook operators will pay $40 per player per month.
Other fees cover activities by software and platform suppliers and a variety of related "support" activities, all of which must be approved by Pagcor.
In addition to a blanket ban on offering online gambling services to Filipinos, Pagcor has emphasised that foreign nationals who are staying in the Philippines, and Filipinos residing abroad, are not allowed to take part in online gaming activity. Likewise, individuals who are under 21 years old are not allowed to play.
Pagcor said it was entering into the licensing of offshore gaming operators “…to safeguard the welfare of the Filipinos [and] at the same time meet the agency’s revenue targets to help fund the government’s nation-building programs.”
A monitoring task force dubbed “Task Force POGO” will be created to conduct surveillance and monitoring activities and report violations committed by licensed operators; this will be composed of key personnel from Pagcor, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Bureau of Immigration.
Pagcor offshore gaming licenses will not be transferable and may be suspended or cancelled at any time by the Pagcor board of directors if the licensee commits an offence against the Philippine anti-gambling laws or violates any condition attached to the license.
The license conditions also include a clause prohibiting Pagcor licensed operators from accepting wagers from online punters resident in nations which have specific laws banning internet gambling, ruling out states like Singapore, Japan, China and Korea for operators, for example.
How the new dispensation will impact the online gambling licensing activities of First Cagayan Leisure and Resort Corp, which is based in the Philippines Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) with operators ostensibly banned from accepting Filipino gamblers, is uncertain.
Last month a Pagcor statement indicated that the regulator was reviewing the situation in CEZA, presumably to investigate how this fits with the overall picture…but no decisions have been announced so far..