The first ever G2E Asia @ The Phillipines has officially kicked off, and it began with a keynote speech from Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) chief Andrea Domingo. She gave the attendees a warm welcome while emphasizing the regulators emphasis on applying the law.
With a super typhoon bearing down on Manila, Domingo first noted that she believed it was a good omen. “When it rains when you’re campaigning, they say its good luck,” she noted. “Going through with that logic, we have a super typhoon on the opening of the first G2E here in Manila, so I think you’ll have a super success in this convention.”
She then got into the heart of her speech, emphasizing her mission to apply the laws of the Philippines. “The Philippines is a democratic republic with a very rigid and strong legal system and a very strong permanent body of laws that all of us must follow,” she noted. She then relayed what her boss has given as her one guiding rule. “This is the first mandate that President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Roa Duterte told me when I first assumed the office. Just follow the law. You do not disregard the rule of law. And that is what we’ve been doing to the best of our capabilities given some political realities, but we never ever do something that is blatantly illegal.”
From there, she stressed that the Philippines is looking to achieve the highest rating it can under the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA). She also noted that while other countries have had turbulent gambling industries due to their allowance of grey markets, the Philippines will respect the laws of all countries, and strictly enforce their own.
She later turned to the topic of the Philippine Offshore Gambling Operators (POGOs) industry, noting that she thinks 90% of the problems are already solved, but that it still needs a lot of cleaning up. She made a promise to have everything mostly sorted, and quite soon. “We have done the computations, we have done the policies, and I think by 2020 next year, we will have addressed 95% if not 97% of the problems of POGO, including the dark side of what they call prostitution, kidnapping and financing.”
She believes PAGCOR can achieve this goal through their POGO task force alliance with the National Bureau of Investigation, the police, and the Bureau of Immigration. By cleaning up the industry, she suggested the Philippines would have a more sophisticated gambling industry by the first quarter of 2020.
She also discussed the general state of the casino industry, first noting the general ban against new licenses, but the exception given for Clark. Although new licenses can be issued to that region, PAGCOR feels the market is well served already, and without new infrastructure, won’t be issuing more.
She gave also gave a rundown of where PAGCOR currently has casinos and gaming parlors. Cebu currently has two, Davao one, Metro Manila 6, and Clark between 9 and 10. While she gave no specifics on e-games or e-bingo parlors, she noted that the regulator is no longer allowing new licenses in areas that are saturated, noting that poor Filipinos need to be protected from problem gambling.
Finally, she noted that PAGCOR wants to help support and grow the gambling industry in the Philippines, so long as operations and service providers follow the law. If they stray from the law, she warned that PAGCOR has gotten very good at ferreting out offenders and making them pay.