The Philippines is an interesting market for online gambling.
The country is divided into two distinct regions for gambling
purposes. First, there’s the majority of the country in which
gambling is tightly controlled by the state-owned Philippine
Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). PAGCOR operates all
land-based casinos, and betting outlets across the country.
Locals are welcome to play at approved PAGCOR locations and
online for some forms of gambling. Filipinos can also visit any
of the numerous PAGCOR betting terminals across the country and
are free to gamble online at offshore websites.
The laws for online gaming in the Philippines are a bit odd.
In both regions of the Philippines, it’s illegal for any
independent operator to offer online betting to locals. However,
offshore providers with no connection to the Philippines may
offer their services to the Philippines.
In short, there are two different sets of laws (or lack of
laws) in play here. Citizens of the Philippines are not subject
to any laws that ban online gambling. There was considerable
debate on the legality of placing bets over the internet, but a
court ruling in 2012 found that there was no piece of language
in Philippine law that made it an offense to place bets. So,
citizens are free to play wherever they want.
Operators must play by a whole different set of rules. Any
online gambling site licensed in the Philippines is restricted
from offering its services to Filipinos. This has created a
situation in which PAGCOR has a monopoly on land-based gambling
but is cut off from its own market online.
Cagayan Freeport and Online Gambling License
The second “region” is the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and
Freeport which most people just call “Cagayan Freeport.” This is
the only area in the Philippines not under complete control of
the PAGCOR monopoly. In the Freeport area, there are numerous
independent casinos that are allowed to offer their services to
Cagayan Freeport also acts as an online gambling licensing
jurisdiction. In fact, it’s the only such jurisdiction in all of
Asia. A Filipino gambling license is hard to get and does not
allow operators to accept wagers from Philippine citizens, but it’s valuable nonetheless. A license there grants access to the
greater Asian area, which is a booming and untapped market.
PAGCOR issues the licenses and monitors all existing
licensees for compliance. Any limited company interested in
getting a license can apply for one. The application itself
costs $40,000 and then there’s a $48,000 fee for the first year
once approved. Licenses are renewed each year after that for
$60,000 per year.
License holders can offer their services to anyone outside
the Philippines and may take advantage of the country’s highly
developed internet infrastructure. The close proximity of the
Philippines to the rest of Asia and its high level of
development make it an attractive base of operations for any
company interested in tapping the Asian market.
All game systems must be tested and approved, and the company
must keep an adequate amount of cash on hand to cover all player
balances. The licensing commission is strict on these rules, and
it does a good job of enforcing the regulations.
If you are interested in more information about the licensing
situation in the Philippines or the different regulations set in
place you can always check out the website for the Philippine
Amusement and Gaming Corporation. Also, if you want a direct
answer on a specific question you can contact them through phone
or email. All of this information can be found below:
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