Two wholly-owned units of Philippine gaming investor Leisure and Resorts World Corp (LRWC) have been separately ordered by the Philippine gaming regulator to cease current operation of some electronic games parlours because of alleged non-compliance with “distance restriction guidelines”.
In a filing on Friday, LRWC said that on Thursday, Total Gamezone Xtreme Inc had been told by the country’s regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), it must “immediately cease” the operations of electronic games at 17 sites. Pagcor gave the reason as “non-compliance with the distance restriction guidelines under Section 2 of Regulation 3 of the Gaming Site Regulatory Manual (GSRM) for Electronic Games version 2.0”.
Another LRWC filing on Friday cited Pagcor as offering distance regulation guidelines as the reason for on Thursday ordering LRWC unit AB Leisure Exponent Inc to stop operations at 36 sites offering electronic bingo games.
In both cases, LRWC said it would send a “letter of reconsideration to Pagcor”. It added: “Should reconsideration be not given, we will transfer the… operations at said sites… to compliant locations.”
Regulation 3, Section 2 of the 2.0 version of Pagcor’s Gaming Site Regulatory Manual for Electronic Games says – among other things – that such venues must be “not less than 200 metres [656 feet] from schools and places of worship. It also sets minimum distance requirements between licensed gaming sites.
The equivalent Pagcor regulation for electronic bingo parlours has the same set of conditions.
The move against some of LRWC’s domestic gaming operations comes only weeks after Andrea Domingo, the new head of the Pagcor, said the regulator would not be renewing the gaming licence of PhilWeb Corp, which offered Internet-delivered casino games via a network with a total of 286 retail outlets in that country, according to company information.
Ms Domingo was additionally reported as saying her organisation planned not to renew the licences of a total of 302 e-Games venues and 324 e-Bingo outlets operated by various businesses, and that were described as catering to local bettors.
Roberto Ongpin, the controlling shareholder of PhilWeb Corp, tried to broker a compromise deal with Pagcor, but on Monday finally admitted defeat, saying in a filing to the Philippine Stock Exchange that he would divest all his holdings in Philweb.
LRWC – which has several interests related to land-based and online gambling in the Philippines – in April reported group-wide 2015 consolidated revenue of PHP9.5 billion (US$206 million), up by almost 40 percent in year-on-year terms.
According to LRWC’s 2015 annual report, its casino division is composed of three units. They are: Prime Investment Korean Inc, engaged in junket operations including phone betting at Midas Hotel and Casino in Manila; Blue Chip Gaming and Leisure Corp, a “facilities provider” of VIP slot arcades for Pagcor; and a joint venture called Hotel Enterprises Philippines Inc, which owns the Midas Hotel and Casino.
LRWC’s online division includes the majority-owned First Cagayan Leisure and Resorts Corp. The latter is the master licensor on behalf of the Cagayan Freeport and Special Economic Zone, for online gaming services aimed at overseas consumers.
On August 23, Reuters news agency reported – citing some comments made by Ms Domingo – that Pagcor wished to raise fresh funds by issuing online gaming licences for services that targeted overseas players.
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