The new president of the Philippines said he plans to stop the proliferation of online gambling in the country and revoke existing licences. Rodrigo Duterte (pictured) was sworn in as the Philippines’ 16th president on Thursday, holding his first Cabinet meeting after the official ceremony.
“Online gambling must stop… it’s out of control in Pagcor [Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp],” Mr Duterte said during the televised Cabinet meeting.
“I do not want a proliferation of gambling activities all over the country,” he added, according to several local media reports.
The president additionally said he would order Pagcor to rescind “sometime soon” the permits that the previous administration had awarded to companies operating online gambling.
He did not specify if that meant revoking licences of existing online gaming providers operating in the country or going after the existing gaming jurisdictions that are allowed to issue online gaming licences for services aimed at overseas players.
“There is no way of government collecting taxes there online. How do you collect taxes there? [It's] Not exactly the taxes but I do not want a proliferation of gambling activities all over the country,” said Mr Duterte.
The president also cited the adverse effects that gambling could have on people as one of the reasons for wanting to stop online gambling in the country.
Online gambling is legal all across the Philippines and is said to be very popular. There are also a few gaming jurisdictions in the country authorised to issue online gaming licences, although the platforms within these jurisdictions can only be accessed by foreign players.
The latest of these is Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (known as APECO), the newest gaming jurisdiction in the Philippines. It was promoted during Global Gaming Expo (G2E) Asia held in May in Macau. The master licensor of APECO had said it would initially focus on issuing online gaming licences.
The possibility of a ban on online gambling could have a negative impact on domestic online gaming operators such as Philippines-based PhilWeb Corp.
PhilWeb said recently it was seeking to raise at least PHP6 billion (US$128.6 million) to fund its expansion programme. PhilWeb in 2003 received a licence from Pagcor to launch a network of e-Games outlets in that country.
Mr Duterte has appointed Andrea Domingo, a former head of the Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration, to head Pagcor. Lawyer Alfredo Lim is to be her chief operating officer as well as president of the regulatory body, according to local media reports.
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"The [Macau] government has a lead in this subject in regards to what should be done after the [gaming] concessions expire. We will be first listening to what the government will say”
Ambrose So Shu Fai
Vice-chairman and chief executive at Macau casino operator SJM Holdings