A number of Manila based live dealer platform providers, including the likes of Playtech, Opus Gaming and EntwineTech will be breathing a collective sigh of relief as the real focus of President Rodrigo Duterte declared war on online gambling becomes clear.
It’s not them.
It seems The Punisher has no issue with locally licensed operators who are targeting customers outside the Philippines. Far from from it (more on that below).
The sole focus of his ire is the operators of internet gambling cafes targeting locals.
Attracting special attention is Philweb Corp, which until recently operated over 300 e-bingo and e-gaming cafes across the country. Not any more. Under direct pressure from The Punisher, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) has refused to renew Philweb’s gaming license. The company’s share price has crumbled and it’s (now resigned) CEO and majority shareholder, Roberto Ongpin has been labelled (by Duterte) as an oligarch who must be stopped.
Meanwhile, plans are afoot to beef up the country’s international online gambling presence.
Andrea Domingo, head of the Pagcor told local reporters yesterday that,
“We’re readying the application forms. It’s no longer the Filipinos who are betting but foreigners,”
The plan it seems is to fill the tax revenue shortfall caused from the closure of local internet cafes operated by Philweb and others, (around $250 million) with revenue from international market facing operators. This would clearly be a top-down directive from the president. Since coming to office, any of his instructions to Pagcor to jump have been followed by a very submissive, ‘how high’.
Looks like we’ll be seeing more, rather than less live dealers base in the Philippines.