Sen. Francis Escudero has laid out his plan to make sure the Philippine government gets its rightful share of the online gaming sector’s revenue—plug the loopholes on the regulation.
The lawmaker, if you recall, is challenging the right of state regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to issue licenses to Philippine-based online gambling operators serving international betting customers. In a forum with reporters last Thursday, Escudero said the tricky issue of who “really” regulates the online gaming sector in country is depriving the government of its “rightful revenue share.”
“We need to address this issue with finality so we can finally plug the loopholes in foregone revenues from offshore gaming and put to rest the issue of the legality or illegality of its operation in the country,” Escudero was quoted by news outlet Interaksyon saying.
PAGCOR is currently issuing licenses—35 licenses so far—to Philippine Offshore Gambling Operators (POGO), stressing that online licensing “fall within the bound of its charter to operate, authorize and license games of chance, games of cards and games of numbers in the Philippines.”
Escudero, however, is doubting the regulator’s authority on grounds that its charter was enacted before the advent of online platforms for gaming.
“When PAGCOR was created under Presidential Decree No. 1602, the concept of gaming in its charter is territorial and land-based; internet was nowhere near the grasp of anyone yet at that time. Only during the framing of CEZA (Cagayan Economic Zone Authority) and APECO (Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority) was online gaming specifically included in their charters,” the lawmaker said, according to the news outlet.
PAGCOR is in the process of transitioning from its dual role as both regulator and operator of land-based casinos to a purely regulatory function. Its 11 casinos, which operate under the Casino Filipino brand, as well as its eight VIP slot machine clubs and three slots arcades, are expected to be fully privatized by Q3 2017.