A new gaming jurisdiction is looking to attract online gaming operators—and possibly, land-based casinos—to the northern part of the Philippines.
The gaming jurisdiction is located within the 12,500-hectare Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APECO) in the town of Casiguran in Aurora. The zone is about 270 kilometers away from the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), where master licensor First Cagayan Leisure and Resort Corporation is allowed to issue both online and land-based licenses.
Pacific Seaboard Leisure and Entertainment Corporation is the exclusive master licensor for the new body for the next 25 years, according to a GGRAsia report.
The gaming jurisdiction plans to focus first on issuing online gambling licenses—using a license fee structure similar to CEZA—to bring operators to the Aurora, which is considered to be an underdeveloped part of Luzon, before turning its attention to brick-and-mortar casinos.
“We thought of initially starting with online gaming, because it’s easier to set up. And then later on we’ll go into land-based casinos,” Pacific Seaboard President and CEO Victor Lazatin said in a statement.
APECO officials told Asia Gaming Brief that two memorandum of understandings for projects in the zone have already been signed. The first is with an Australian company that wants to develop “an eco-tourism destination with a gaming component,” while the second potential project is with a Chinese group.
APECO plans to charge an annual US$40,000 fee for interactive gaming licenses, the report stated. The fee is inclusive of application fees and will also apply to operations involving internet casinos or live dealer table games.
Aside from the annual fee, licensees will also be charged a 2 percent “gaming levy” of their monthly gross win or a minimum of US$5,000 levy per table each month, but Pacific Seaboard said its licensees will have an “income tax holiday.”
A gaming license from Pacific Seaboard still needs a final approval from state regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
APECO may not be focusing yet on land-based casinos, but the gaming jurisdiction said “few locators” have already expressed their interest in setting up hotels and casinos in the economic zone. APECO President and CEO Israel Maducdoc said the brick-and-mortar casinos are planned “to be part of the ecotourism project” within the zone.
So far, “no limit” has been set regarding the number of land-based casino licenses that APECO will issue. There’s also no fixed investment amount for setting up a casino in APECO.