Japanese gaming conglomerate Universal Entertainment Corp says the group’s Okada Manila casino resort in the Philippine capital has been authorised by the local regulator to provide online gaming services.
Universal Entertainment’s subsidiary Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc operates the Okada Manila casino resort (pictured).
Universal Entertainment said in a filing on Monday to Jasdaq that Tiger Resort had received on 19 April a letter from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) approving the firm to enter into online gaming. Universal attached the regulator’s letter to its filing.
“The system is scheduled to go into operation after clearing various conditions, such as confirmation of compliance with casino regulations and test simulations, including proper collection of casino licence fees and anti-money laundering [regulations],” said Universal Entertainment.
The company added that Okada Manila was “the first among the four integrated resorts comprising Entertainment City in Metro Manila” to receive such authorisation.
In the authorisation letter by Pagcor attached to Universal Entertainment’s filing, it is stated that the regulator approved in a meeting on 15 April, Tiger Resort’s request to conduct online gaming of table games and electronic gaming machines at Okada Manila. The document is signed by Pagcor’s Assistant Vice President Angeline P. Papica-Entienza.
It is said in the letter by Pagcor that the system to be deployed by Tiger Resort to support online gaming at Okada Manila “must be capable of being audited for proper determination of taxes and license fees.”
The system also “must be able to prevent minors/banned persons from playing,” and “must be able to include other safeguards such as prevention of money laundering and enforcement of responsible gaming,” as per Pagcor’s letter.
The regulator additionally said “there should be no proliferation of online remote gaming.”
In its Monday filing, Universal Entertainment said it considered the approval of online gaming at Okada Manila a “first step”. The firm added it would “continue to develop online sports betting gaming using its proprietary technology.”
It was unclear from Universal Entertainment’s filing, whether the authorisation received by Pagcor for online gaming referred to “PIGO”, or Philippine Inland Gaming Operator, gambling.
PIGO licences are for online gambling services serving the domestic market, rather than the so-called “POGO” – Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator – permits, for services aimed at players overseas. The concept was introduced last year by Pagcor, amid a slump in casino revenue linked to the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Casino operators in the Philippines can apply for a PIGO licence: once approved by Pagcor, they can offer gambling services via the internet to existing registered members only. Players are entitled to access the services anywhere within the Philippines; they are not required to be in or around the casino premises.
The head of the Philippine casino regulator said last December that three of Manila’s Entertainment City gaming resorts were among venues earmarked to offer online gaming to domestic players via their premises using a PIGO licence. One of them was Okada Manila.
A number of major commercial casino operators in the Philippine capital, including Okada Manila, suspended their operations from late March this year, due to countermeasures against the pandemic.
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