PAGCOR revokes 124 eGames permits, won’t renew hundreds of others

pagcor-egames-licenses-revokedThe Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR) has begun shutting down its licensed online gambling operations in keeping with President Rodrigo Duterte’s orders.

On Friday, PAGCOR boss Andrea Domingo attended a media forum in the Clark Freeport Zone where she announced that her agency had revoked 124 eGames permits for regulatory violations. Domingo said the licenses of 302 eGames and 324 eBingo outlets wouldn’t be renewed and no further licenses would be issued.

Local media quoted Domingo saying the shutdown of PAGCOR’s eGames operations is expected to cost the state-owned agency big-time, as eGames contribute up to P9b (US $191m) to PAGCOR’s annual revenue. PAGCOR is the largest contributor to government revenue among all state-owned entities.

eGames venues contain digital terminals offering a variety of online gambling options, including casino, video poker and lottery games. The number of eGames outlets underwent rapid growth in recent years, quintupling to 12k since 2010.

Unlike the Asian-facing online gambling sites licensed by the First Cagayan Leisure and Resort Corp under the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), eGames operators are allowed to accept bets from residents of the Philippines.

It was President Duterte’s desire to protect local residents that apparently led him to announce during his first cabinet meeting that “online gambling must stop.” However, Duterte has since made other public pronouncements that suggest his anti-online purge may eventually turn on CEZA-licensed operators, as well.

On Friday, Domingo said PAGCOR was teaming up with law enforcement agencies on an illegal gambling task force and she is preparing an executive order to establish a formal policy on online gambling operations.

Next week, PAGCOR is scheduled to complete a map of all licensed gaming facilities, noting their proximity to sensitive areas like schools and churches, strongly suggesting that these outlets will be first to feel PAGCOR’s axe swing.

Domingo’s comments spell more trouble for eGames operators like Philweb Corp, Leisure & Resorts World Corp and DFNN. Philweb was forced to suspend trading in its shares in the wake of Duterte’s original comments and PAGCOR subsequently renewed Philweb’s license for just one month while the agency sought clarification on Duterte’s wishes.