Regulations for online gambling operations in the Philippines have evolved rapidly, but it might finally be settling down. The president and chief operating officer of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), Alfredo Lim, joined CalvinAyre.com’s Stephanie Tower to talk about the recent successes of the regulator, and how they see the regulatory environment settling down in the near future.
PAGCOR is new to regulating the online space, only taking over the responsibility in 2016. They conceptualized the Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) license, which all online operators must apply for. They’ve learned a lot about regulating those businesses since. Lim notes:
“We’ve been sending our people to different conferences for them to learn the ropes of online gaming. That’s why at the start we were very slow in processing or issuing licenses to POGO because we’re just learning. We’re trying to learn the process. But now, we’ve already, more or less, we’re already well versed with the setup. And in addition to that, we employ a third party audit platform that will mirror the transaction at the POGO licenses.”
The success of the new regime can be seen at the bottom line. Operators who were operating without a license, or under reporting revenues, suddenly had to straighten up, and more importantly, pay up. “We generated PHP7.3 billion in 2018,” Lim says. “In 2017, we generated PHP3.9 billion, whereas before, when we took over, the declared income was only PHP59 million.”
Now that they’ve done their studies and settled on what they want for the countries gambling industry, PAGCOR doesn’t look to be changing anything in the short term. Lim declares, “The fees [are] very reasonable, and as a matter of fact, maybe after five years, we’ll be able to know, more or less, how much will be the reasonable fees to be charged.”
Tower asked Lim about reports that the increased pressure from PAGCOR might be driving business out of the country. Lim feels that even if that’s the case, he’s comfortable with it, saying, “No, we have enough number already. We are trying our best to expand our market. In fact, during our ICE conference in London, we put up a booth there and surprisingly, a lot of Europeans made inquiries even after we left.”
Maybe because of that increased European interest, Lim is confident of the agencies future. When asked what the upcoming years have in store, he said, “Well, we intend to increase part of our revenue, even though we have already made a remarkable performance for 2018. But the trend is, I think, continuing also with our land-based casino.”