PEZA to bar PAGCOR licensed gambling operators from buildings

TAGs: CEZA, PAGCOR, PEZA, Philippines

The exciting Philippines gambling industry could be in for another shake up following Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Director General Charito Plaza announcing that online gambling firms would be barred from leasing office space in PEZA accredited buildings.

PEZA to bar PAGCOR licensed gambling operators from buildingsPlaza made the announcement late Sunday after the PEZA board met with the highly influential Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP).

“The OP (Office of the President) already wants to legalize online gaming. They asked PEZA for us to allow to locate BPOs (business process outsourcing companies) who are into online gaming,” Plaza said. “After meeting with the PEZA board and the BPO association, we reached a consensus that we will not allow because first, gambling is not a mandate of PEZA. Second, allowing it might affect operations of our legitimate BPO locators.”

When the news first broke there was some confusion as to whether this barring of gaming firms was limited to those companies operating under a CEZA or Aurora gaming license, which, under President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order No. 13, must vacate Metro Manila and operate solely within the CEZA or Aurora licensed economic zones.

The action, however, is meant to bar even the gaming companies legally licensed through PAGCOR‘s Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) program.

Plaza said, “Since PEZA board will not allow online gaming, (building owners) should stop allowing the lessee to occupy the accredited buildings.”

The action won’t result in immediate evictions but when the lease expires, the buildings will be asked to no longer lease to the gaming companies or risk losing PEZA accredited status.

We have reached out to several PEZA buildings in the Makati area that are home to many online gaming companies for comment but we were unable to get an official statement as they were waiting for a final order from PEZA concerning the action.

Sources told that the building owners didn’t seemed too concerned about the potential loss of PEZA accreditation. Most owners said they were more than happy to let it drop rather than lose their highly valued tenants.

Our research into this shows they may not need to heed PEZA’s policy since building owners can register certain floors with PEZA and leave other floors non-accredited. Hence, the building owners could keep both their accreditation and the valuable gaming firms as tenants.

With the building owners understanding the value of the online gaming industry to the local economy and their own bottom line, one has to speculate why PEZA would want to disassociate itself from the gaming industry.

We reached out to Genny Marcial, the executive director for external affairs and membership of the IBPAP, and she wouldn’t answer any questions regarding the meeting. When asked how much her group pushed for the new directive, Marcial was quite evasive, telling us, “From the very start, IBPAP has always been firm about its decision not to accept online gambling operators as members of the association.”

Plaza may have revealed all when she said, “After meeting with the PEZA board and the BPO association, we reached a consensus that we will not allow because first, gambling is not a mandate of PEZA. Second, allowing it might affect operations of our legitimate BPO locators.”

Legitimate? Thanks to PAGCOR’s progressive action towards online gambling regulation in the Philippines, these companies are properly licensed and regulated in accordance to the standards set forth by the government, exactly the same as the members of the IBPAP.

We have to ask, why are the members of the BPO association upset with the online gambling firms?

Is it for moral reasons?  Do they detest gambling?

Not according to our sources, who said the group is upset that online gambling companies have been willing to pay more for office space and pay higher salaries for talented people.

This has driven up the IBPAP members’ costs to compete in the open market.  Rather than compete fairly by giving Filipino workers and building owners a fair rate, the group is trying to hit the gaming industry where they live or, at the very least, work.

This is another reason that the Philippine online gambling industry needs to form their own association made up of the companies that have acquired PAGCOR licenses.

The Philippines needs to realize the importance of the gaming industry to the local economy. Our research shows that the online gaming industry directly employs close to 75,000 people in the Metro Manila area alone.

Online gaming companies in the Philippines should compete with each other for talented workers and clients but they shouldn’t have to compete with each other when it comes to government regulations and respect.


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