Gambling

Philippine Casino Resorts Get Online Gambling Licenses

Three casino resorts in the Philippines have received online gambling licenses to allow them to take action from high rollers. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

First time for domestic online gambling

Three of the four casino resorts in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, have gotten online gambling licenses that allow them to cater to domestic high roller customers. This comes as the country continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) chairperson Andrea Domingo confirmed the issuance of the recently created Philippine Inland Gaming Operator (PIGO) licenses this week.

Universal Entertainment, Melco Resorts, and Bloomberry Resorts

The three recipients of these licenses were Universal Entertainment, Melco Resorts, and Bloomberry Resorts. The other casino resort in the city is under the operation of the Genting subsidiary Resorts World. This is the first time that licensed online gambling operators in the Philippines can welcome customers from within the country, albeit qualified high rollers.

The PIGOs’ gross gaming revenue will be subject to a 30% effective tax rate. 25% of the gaming revenue will go to PAGCOR, with the remaining 5% going to the Philippines Bureau of Internal Revenue.

In-person registration

Only known high rollers who are already a part of a licensee’s player database will be eligible to use these online gambling platforms. VIPs must register in person to gamble online; all deposits and withdrawals will go through a land-based PIGO casino.

The reason for the in-person requirement is to make sure that only people who are physically located in the Philippines are using the PIGO platforms. 

it will be good to collect revenues and stop illegal gambling”

Speaking about the positives of these new licenses, Domingo said: “It will be good to collect revenues and stop illegal gambling because there’s a lot of illegal gambling.”

Online operators hope that they can launch their online operations in December. DFNN was the first gaming operator to receive a license, getting it earlier this week.

A tough year for casinos

Though COVID-19 cases have been stabilizing in the Philippines, there are still significant restrictions in place. This includes casinos, which are only permitted to have every second slot machine up and running and a limit of three players per table game. All entrants are subject to temperature screening and must wear face coverings while inside the properties. 

VIP gamblers account for 10-15% of annual casino revenue in the Philippines. Casino revenue naturally has been significantly down in 2020 because of extensive shutdowns and restrictions. For the first three quarters of the year, gross gaming revenue fell 60% to $1.5bn. 

There is a chance that online gambling could open for non-high rollers in the future. Domingo referenced the transition towards doing more and more daily tasks online and that “there might be a way to qualify more Filipinos in the future to play online in a safe manner.”

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