The Philippine market’s gross gaming revenue may rise 9.4 percent in 2018, with online casinos playing a big part in the country’s gaming growth story.
Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) chair Andrea Domingo estimated that the country’s gross gaming revenue will rise to PHP186 billion (US$3.57 billion) with the bulk of growth coming from Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO) licensees.
“The gross gaming revenue, our target now, is PHP186 billion. It is different from PAGCOR’s gross revenue target. From there, we will be extracting PHP 65 billion ($1.25 billion) and we will be contributing 72 percent of that [revenue] to the state coffers,” Domingo told reporters at the sidelines of the ASEAN Gaming Summit 2018 in Manila.
Domingo said PAGCOR plans to double its revenue target for POGO license holders to PHP6 billion ($115.2 million) this year from PHP3 billion ($56 million) in 2017.
She pointed out that the PHP6 billion target is attainable since all 53 firms that have been awarded with a license to operate in the country are now up and running. PAGCOR initially issued 35 gaming licenses when the POGO program was introduced in 2017.
PAGCOR licensees paid the regulator application and processing fees of $50,000 for e-casino and $40,000 for sports betting. The operators were also charged $200,000 (e-casino) and $150,000 (sports betting) after their licenses were approved.
Domingo pointed out that the POGOs are meant to strike a balance between ensuring the welfare of local residents and meeting the agency’s revenue targets to help fund the government’s nation-building programs.
She also dismissed reports that operators were moving out of the Philippines to other Southeast Asian jurisdictions, particularly Cambodia, because of high PAGCOR fees.
In fact, Domingo revealed that eight new operators are applying for POGO licenses in the Philippines in order to provide games in online sports betting.
“There will be more, but we are very careful about that,” the PAGCOR chief said. “Like I said, online is very tricky. We would like to make sure that it will not be used in any criminal activity.”
Taking a swipe at the country’s regional competitors in the online gambling space, Domingo pointed out that the advantage of investing in the Philippines is that the country is not a military state.
She also highlighted the literacy competence of Filipino workers and their hospitable character.
“If they [online gambling operators] can’t afford us [PAGCOR fees], then they can’t afford to pay the big bets they are getting. This is why we are very strict. We don’t want fly-by-night people who escape when they’re hit back,” Domingo said.