The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp – also known as Pagcor – has rejected a donation of a 49-percent stake in gaming parlour operator PhilWeb Corp, according to media reports. The rejection appeared in the country’s media before the gaming regulator-cum-operator had given any response to the company, PhilWeb said in a filing on Friday.
On Wednesday Roberto Ongpin, controlling shareholder of PhilWeb, had offered to donate 49 percent of the company to Pagcor, asking in return that the firm’s licence be renewed by the authorities, in order to “save the jobs” of approximately 6,000 people. He had added that Pagcor – as an operator of casinos as well as the national regulator – would be in a position to maintain the running of the business.
But on Friday morning several media outlets had quoted a statement from Pagcor chairman Andrea Domingo that noted – referring to the Mr Ongpin by his initials, and to the nation’s new president. Rodrigo Duterte: “‘The issue is not RVO or PhilWeb per se… It is the President’s and his government’s opposition to online and on-site electronic gaming because of the social ills and decay they foist on our communities as they cater to the more economically vulnerable portion of our population…”
The comments attributed to Ms Domingo were mentioned in PhilWeb’s Friday filing, which cited a report in Business World Online. GGRAsia approached Pagcor asking it to confirm the statement attributed to Ms Domingo, but had not received a reply by the time this story went online.
Following the Friday news reports saying Ms Domingo had rejected the offer, PhilWeb said in its filing: “We have not received any official statement from Pagcor on this matter.” It added the issue was to be discussed at a board meeting at 11am local time on Friday.
Mr Ongpin had announced last week he would sell his entire 53.76-percent stake in PhilWeb via an open and public bidding process in an effort to salvage the business.
PhilWeb has come under the regulatory spotlight since Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte made a number of anti-oligarch and anti-online gambling remarks.
Mr Duterte had singled out Mr Ongpin, a former trade minister, as one of the country’s “monster” oligarchs. He accused Mr Ongpin of currying favour with previous presidents and using his influence to boost his businesses.
Mr Ongpin and his daughter Anna Bettina Ongpin have since both resigned from PhilWeb.
Net income at PhilWeb fell to PHP22.2 million (US$478,825) in the three months ended June 30, down 89 percent from PHP201.7 million a year earlier, the company said in a filing to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Tuesday.
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