The head of the Philippine casino regulator has confirmed that three of Manila’s Entertainment City gaming resorts are among venues approved to offer online gaming to domestic players via their premises using a new “PIGO”, or Philippine Inland Gaming Operator, licence.
They are: Solaire Resort and Casino, run by Bloomberry Resorts Corp; Okada Manila, promoted by Japan’s Universal Entertainment Corp; and City of Dreams Manila, operated by a unit of Asian operator Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd.
Andrea Domingo (pictured in a file photo), chair of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), confirmed the information during a Wednesday interview live online from gaming industry news provider Asia Gaming Brief, titled “Life after POGOs”.
PIGO licences are for online gambling services to a domestic market, rather than the so-called “POGO” – Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator – permits, for services aimed at players overseas. The latter came under scrutiny from China recently as part of its campaign against mainland China residents engaging in online gambling.
Ms Domingo said that the PIGO services – which she added Pagcor was referring to as “live shots” – would be aimed at “VIP players” already on the authorities’ player database, and players would need to be Philippines “residents”.
PIGO players would also need to deposit play funds at the land-based casino.
Ms Domingo said that “at the moment” the plan was that PIGO players would need to attend the relevant licensed casino in person to withdraw funds, which she said was “necessary for regulatory purposes”.
She added the regulator had currently “no estimates on revenues” that could be achieved by the new services, but added it was part of the effort to combat “illegal” online gambling out of the Philippines, on platforms including “social media”.
She added services might start “later this month or early next year”.
“For the casino-based online gaming – what we call the Live Shots – for example in Solaire, we are [going to be] very very strict that only the VIP players” already in the country’s player tracking system “will be allowed to play,” said Ms Domingo.
“No banned personalities,” and “no minors” would be permitted to play, she added.
Facial recognition technology would be used to confirm the identity of players, Ms Domingo said.
PIGO tax rate, POGO comeback
The Pagcor boss further noted there would be a 25 percent tax on gross gaming revenue (GGR) generated by PIGO licensees, and a 5 percent franchise tax payable to the country’s Bureau of Internal Revenue.
A licence fee of PHP100,000 (about US$2,000) was applicable, she noted.
Ms Domingo also mentioned that a casino operator at Subic Bay had also been approved for a PIGO licence, but was “still testing their software”.
Separately DFNN Inc, a Philippine-listed firm, said in a press release that it also had a PIGO licence that had been granted in November.
Computer servers for such PIGO play would have to be housed within the appropriately-licensed bricks and mortar casino, affirmed Ms Domingo.
The Pagcor official also confirmed “about 35” POGO licensees – out of 61 permitted to operate previously – had restarted operations following suspension earlier this year as part of the Philippine countermeasures against Covid-19.
Out of the 35 operating POGOs, there were “some new ones” and Pagcor was still receiving applications for such licences.
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