New Online Gaming Licenses Issued By Philippines’ PAGCOR
The Philippines’ gambling regulatory body, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), has announced its intent to issue a new round of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) licenses. These licensees are designated specifically for online gambling operators and their services are required to serve an exclusively international clientele. Meaning, Philippines residents are prohibited from taking advantage of these operators’ services.
As many as 78 applications have been submitted for the new round of license issuing, but Andrea Domingo, Chair of PAGCOR, asserts that not all applicants will be granted a license to operate. Applicants are each putting up application and processing fees of $50,000 or $40,000 for either casino or sports betting operations, respectively. Should their applications be accepted, casino operators will have to pay an additional $200,000, while sportbooks will have to put up $150,000.
In a news conference held on the ASEAN Gaming Summit’s opening day, Domingo told reporters that the new round of licenses comes as an effort to meet PAGCOR’s 2017 revenue target of PHP60 billion, stating that “The POGOs are meant to safeguard the welfare of the Filipinos at the same time meet the agency’s revenue targets to help fund the government’s nation-building programs.”
Last week an anti-corruption group, the Anti-Trapo Movement (ATM), had requested that the country’s Supreme Court put a stop to PAGCOR’s intended plans for doling out additional gaming licenses.
The group argues that the organization has no authority to regulate online gaming, as detailed by its own charter. ATM also argued that the efforts on the part of PAGCOR violate the Executive Order 13, a decree from the highest office in the country that was intended to combat illegal gambling operations.
The group said, “PAGCOR’s continued acceptance, processing, and issuance of POGO licenses, is violative of the provisions under EO 13, which specifically defined and clarified the individual authorities granted under the laws which it was created to each government agency.”
ATM has gone so far as to recommend the Supreme Court revoke all current licenses that PAGCOR has issued to operators.
Last December, a second petition was submitted to the high court regarding PAGCOR’s licensing procedures by the Union for National Development and Good Governance-Philippines.
Plans for Expansion
While the online gambling landscape remains a contentious one for regulators and anti-corruption groups, land-based gaming is getting its fair share of attention.
Cebu is one such destination that PAGCOR is eyeing as a potential location of major gaming investment. The island getaway could soon be the site of a $500 million casino and resort property. Mundaue Island has also been proposed as the site for a smaller $300 million integrated property. The two projects are the first of their kind to be considered outside the capital. Manila currently operates four such venues, with a fifth expected to be open for business by 2018.
Chairman Domingo cited Cebu as a great site for the next resort due to its preferred locality and proximity to essential services. She raised many valid points in a recent press briefing, concluding that “Cebu is the second largest metropolis in our country,” and adding that, “there are cities there near the airport where the local governments welcome casinos.”
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