Philippines Ramps Up Regulatory Measures for Offshore Gaming Companies

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) is setting the stage for the launch of its online casino market next year by rolling out a comprehensive regulatory framework for offshore licence holders. This updated structure, effective since July, represents an intensified inter-agency initiative aimed at curbing illicit operations tied to offshore firms. Violators of these Philippine laws will now face enhanced penalties, and PAGCOR will bolster its efforts in inspecting and verifying the compliance levels of licence holders and suppliers.

The new system will also closely examine reports presented to law enforcement entities. Both the reporting agencies and PAGCOR will verify these reports. To ensure that regulations are more stringently followed, PAGCOR is set to collaborate with other governmental entities for the rigorous imposition of penalties on those who do not comply.

PAGCOR’s Assistant Vice President for Offshore Gaming Licensing, Atty. Jessa Fernandez, emphasized the gravity of the new framework, stating,

“Under this structure, service providers involved in betting need a licence. We are intent on evaluating company owners, holding them accountable for any illicit involvements.”

Entities found guilty of unauthorized activities will be denied licences. Moreover, those who fail to re-apply for or are granted licences within the stipulated period will face potential cancellation.

Major Changes in the Horizon: From Offshore to Online Casinos

With the deadline for offshore licence holders, both B2C operators and B2B suppliers, to reapply for their permits set for 17th September, companies yet to renew are now under a “probationary status.”

These reforms form part of a broader plan, aiming at overhauling the country’s casino infrastructure. This includes a prospective divestiture of the government-owned terrestrial business and the inauguration of an online segment in the coming year.

The push for the latter, in particular, seems to be a PAGCOR initiative, aiming at amplifying market growth and delivering a seamless gaming journey to Filipino users, while also stimulating robust competition.

Scheduled for a Q1 2024 debut, PAGCOR is introducing a new Filipino brand, an online platform using virtual reality to mimic physical casinos for an engrossing gaming session. Alejandro H. Tengco, PAGCOR Chairman and CEO, elucidated on the platform’s offerings and potential benefits.

With the iGaming sector significantly contributing to PAGCOR’s H1 2023 financial performance, with revenues soaring to PHP 34.125bn, the firm is optimistic about achieving pre-pandemic revenue figures by year-end. Moreover, PAGCOR has set sights on a “modernization” project for modern slot machines, planning to introduce 3,500 new electronic gaming systems, with negotiations already underway.

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Alejandro Dalby Written by Alejandro Dalby