Update: Bloomberg reported on November 3 that PAGCOR will allow integrated resorts in the capital Manila to accept bets online. Alfredo Lim, the corporation’s president, confirmed via text message the approval of applications from City of Dreams Manila, Okada Manila, Resorts World Manila, and Solaire Resort and Casino to begin taking online wagers.
Gambling body weighs proposals
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) is considering proposals to permit land-based casinos to start offering online gambling. This comes as the country’s government and casino businesses look for ways to make up for financial losses due to COVID-19.
government and casino businesses look for ways to make up for financial losses
PAGCOR confirmed in an email to Asia Gaming Brief that: “During the lockdowns this year, proposals from operators of land-based properties to accept bets online from known patrons only were received by PAGCOR.”
The requests put forward are now under consideration by the regulator’s relevant departments. No further details have been provided as yet.
A changing landscape
The allowance of online gambling within the Philippines is looking positive following the recent consideration of licensed online cockfighting (known locally as “sabong”) betting. PAGCOR CEO Andrea Domingo has stated: “PAGCOR can issue the proper regulations in order to license and legitimize operations of local online sabong.”
A potential obstacle to progress is Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. Set to leave office in June 2022, he has historically been hesitant towards gambling expansion in the country. Filipino politician Hon. Gus Tambunting commented last year that the president would not allow online gambling while he was still in power.
While there are online gambling operators currently in the Philippines, they are only able to target customers outside of the country.
The aftermath of pandemic closures
Gambling operators in the Philippines have been struggling during the pandemic, which is why they are looking for any possible revenue boost.
casinos are still struggling because of lower capacity and little international tourism
Land-based casinos had to close in March as the government attempted to curb the spread of COVID-19. The facilities stayed shut until the end of August, when casinos in certain areas were able to resume business at 30% capacity and with extensive restrictions in place. Despite these reopenings, the casinos are still struggling because of lower capacity and little international tourism.
PAGCOR also closed Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) for a time as a result of the pandemic, leading to significantly lower revenues for the country’s gambling regulator. PAGCOR’s monthly earnings from online operators have fallen by about 80% as regulatory fees for POGOs almost halved. About 50% of PAGCOR’s income goes towards funding public programs in the country.