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PAGCOR accepting online gambling operations from traditional casinos

REGULATOR Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) said it will allow traditional bricks-and-mortar casinos to offer gaming activities online to domestic gamblers only, subject to licensing.

PAGCOR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Andrea D. Domingo said in a forum hosted by Asia Gaming Brief Wednesday that it will open up the application process to all traditional casinos in the Philippines.

Ms. Domingo said casino-based online gaming, which she referred to as “live shots,” should only be offered to domestic gamblers, with minors not allowed to participate.

Gambling via live shots will include security measures like tracking systems, facial recognition and monitoring to ensure activities are compliant with gambling rules.

Ms. Domingo said applicants should have proper software before launching online gaming, and must pay a P100,000 application fee. Approved operators must remit 25% of gross gaming revenue (GGR) to PAGCOR and a franchise tax equivalent to 5% of GGR to the Bureau of Internal Revenue. 

Ms. Domingo said the casinos at Okada Manila, City of Dreams Manila and an unnamed casino in Subic were the first to apply for licenses and are in the software testing stage.

“We are very very careful that we are able to regulate fully, not only for revenue, but also because we don’t want people who are not qualified and who are not allowed by law to play,” she said.

Ms. Domingo also said PAGCOR submitted proposed guidelines to the Office of the President for regulating online cockfighting, also known as “online sabong.”

She said PAGCOR’s net earnings are expected to be positive by year’s end following a sharp decline in nine-month earnings due to the lockdown.

“It’s getting better. Even if we’ve been closed for seven to eight months, when we opened up in September it was kind of slow but (starting) October it was really good so we were able to meet all of our revised targets… We will probably make P33-34 billion (in revenue by the end of 2020),” she said.

PAGCOR’s net profit fell 97% year on year to P132.675 million in the nine months to September.

“In 2021, we see that there are many other options that we can go into, so I think starting the second quarter of 2021, we’ll be doing as well as what we did in 2019,” she said.

Ms. Domingo expects the boost in online gaming to be huge in the near term as more people shift to digital during the pandemic.

“I think the (online market) is bigger than the one we have now with the bricks and mortar situation because wherever there’s internet, they can bet for as long as they are qualified,” she said. — Beatrice M. Laforga

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