The days are now numbered for the beleaguered Philippine-based gaming technology provider PhilWeb as the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) confirmed that it will no longer issue a fresh licensefor the firm to operate in the island nation.
Not even former finance minister Roberto Ongpin’s resignation as PhilWeb’s chairman could save the company from sinking in the wake of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against all forms of online gambling.
Bloomberg reported that PhilWeb has failed to secure a new license from the state regulator with no less than PAGCOR chairman Andrea Domingo making the confirmation. PhilWeb’s temporary license is set to expire on Wednesday, August 10
“We won’t cancel it but we won’t renew it,” Domingo said in a text message to the business news media.
The non-renewal of PhilWeb’s license to operate has placed 5,000 people at risk of losing their jobs and will cost PAGCOR an estimated PHP6 million (USD127,671) daily share of e-Games revenue.
Domingo’s announcement has further bludgeoned the already battered Philweb shares, tumbling to a 22-month low. The company’s shares opened with a 33 percent drop in morning trade before taking a nosedive by as much as 44 percent intraday.
“It seems Mr. Duterte is against online gaming as a whole. So stay away, given the fact that PhilWeb has fallen sharply, there’s still room to still bottom at this point, so wait and observe…This stock is going to be driven by news, at this point, rather than performance of the company,” Luis Limingan, head of research at Regina Capital, said in an interview aired over ANC’s Market Edge with Cathy Yang.
PhilWeb, which has been managing the gaming regulator’s e-games network for the past 14 years, operates a network of 268 Pagcor e-Games cafes with a total of 8,839 gaming terminals nationwide. It remits 14billion pesos ($298 million) to the agency for its share of the revenue from the operations, according to the company.
On June 30, newly sworn-in Duterte made the surprise announcement that “online gambling must stop” because too many of his countrymen were gambling instead of working for a living. Acting on the Duterte’s orders, PAGCOR has started revoking 124 eGames permits in July and announced that licenses of 302 eGames and 324 eBingo outlets wouldn’t be renewed.
Since the announcement, Philweb’s shares have plunged more than 70 percent.