The pandemic has prompted Philippines gambling regulator PAGCOR to expedite the transition towards online legal gaming hosted by the country’s leading casino resorts.
Casino Resorts in the Philippines Turn to Online Gambling as Lifeline
Philippines state-controlled Entertainment City integrated resort operators have launched online casinos as the country continues to battle a raging COVID-19 pandemic which has reignited the region, cutting off travel and tourism to PAGCOR’s retail gaming and entertainment venues.
In this context, PAGCOR, the country’s gaming regulator, has decided to greenlight an extraordinary measure that allows the operators to run as online gaming casinos, ushering in a trend that the government long pushed back against, especially in the POGOs sector.
Now, though, it’s all legal, says PAGCOR chair and CEO Andrea Domingo, who announced the news quoted by PhilStar, a local media outlet. Based on media reporting, the three operators to launch iCasino products include Resorts World Manila, Okada Manila, and Solaire Resort & Casino.
This is a follow-up on a previously obtained license for Okada Manila to operate as an online gaming entity moving forward, received in April by PAGCOR, as reported by Inside Asia Gaming, the definitive publication covering the Asian gambling market.
Online gambling is starting under the newly issued Philippine Inland Gaming Operator permits that have been issued to all three resorts that will run online gambling solutions moving forward.
Introducing Online Gambling in the Philippines
The PIGO permits remind the model used in the United States where online casinos are always connected to a retail property that issues “a skin” to an operator, which may be the same property or a third party.
PIGO will serve as a way to allow the casinos to operate and generate revenue despite their temporary shut down under the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) safety protocols in Manila and other key cities in the Philippines. PAGCOR has supported the country during the nadir of the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to do so, but businesses would need to generate gross receipts to be able to contribute to the state’s coffers.
Domingo made a point that PAGCOR will keep a close eye on the licenses and regulate them strictly so as to avoid the proliferation of irresponsible gambling. She has also appealed to Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte to consider a partial reopening of casinos and phase in economic activity on casino floors gradually.
PAGCOR’s properties suffered a 49.1% year-over-year decline in Q1 2021 in terms of revenue, and profit slid down to $3.2 million by 79.1%.