Philippine gaming parlour operator PhilWeb Corp has named a new chairman more than a month after businessman Roberto Ongpin stepped down in an effort to spare the group from the effects of a government crackdown on online gambling services that serve domestic customers.
In a letter to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Monday, the gaming technology provider announced the appointment of Gregorio Araneta III as chairman of the board. Mr Araneta is described by the company as an independent director of PhilWeb. He is currently a member of, respectively, the nominations committee and the remuneration committee.
“Mr Araneta is the second largest shareholder of the company and has been a director of the company for a number of years,” PhilWeb said in its Monday letter.
Mr Araneta directly owns 100 shares in PhilWeb and maintains another 13,043,478 shares through Gregorio Araneta Inc. He also maintains business interests in property development and the energy sector, according to PhilWeb’s filing.
The new PhilWeb chairman is married to Irene R. Marcos-Araneta, daughter of the country’s late deposed dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, according to media outlet Business World.
PhilWeb has become the focus of attention following the Philippines’ new President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-oligarch and anti-online gambling remarks. Mr Ongpin stepped down as Philweb’s chairman on August 4, as Mr Duterte singled out Mr Ongpin as an example of an “oligarch” he would bring down during his term.
PhilWeb vice chair and director Anna Bettina Ongpin – daughter of Mr Ongpin – resigned on August 5.
The Philippines’ gaming regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), said in August it would not be renewing the gaming licence of PhilWeb when it expired on August 10. The company offered Internet-delivered casino games via a network with a total of 286 retail outlets in that country, according to company information.
Mr Ongpin announced earlier this month he would divest all his holdings in PhilWeb. He has a stake of 53.76 percent in the firm.
Mr Duterte has since apparently softened his stance on online gambling, saying he would allow such activities as long as operators pay the “proper” taxes.
State-owned Pagcor announced last week that it had started accepting letters of intent from companies wishing to acquire a Philippines licence for online gaming services aimed at customers outside the country.
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”We expect Goa to quickly become a US$1 billion market as it transitions to land-based casinos (from US$150 million today), which is still just a fraction of India’s total GGR potential of US$10 billion to US$17 billion”
Analyst at Union Gaming Securities Asia