Offshore gaming gets Pagcor nod
After closing its doors to the network of electronic gaming cafes serviced by Philweb Corp., the state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) has opened the window for online gaming that caters exclusively to overseas players.
Pagcor announced that it would start accepting letters of intent from applicants keen on acquiring offshore gaming licenses. Offshore gaming is conducted via internet using a network and software to be offered exclusively to offshore authorized players who have registered and established online gaming accounts with the licensees.
In a press statement, Pagcor said an offshore gaming license may be granted to a Philippine-or offshore-based operator organized in any foreign country that will engage the services of a Pagcor-accredited service or support provider for its online gaming activity. They will be referred to as Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos).
Application and processing fees for offshore gaming licenses amount to $50,000 for e-casinos and $40,000 for sports betting operations. Upon approval of the license, the applicant will pay $200,000 for an e-casino license and $150,000 for a sports betting license.
Authorized players of these offshore gaming offerings must be foreigners based in another country. Foreign nationals who are staying in the Philippines and Filipinos residing abroad are not allowed to take part in the online gaming activity. Likewise, individuals who are under 21 years old are not allowed to play.
Pagcor said it would venture into the licensing of such offshore gaming operators “to safeguard the welfare of the Filipinos at the same time meet the agency’s revenue targets to help fund the government’s nation-building programs.”
To ensure that all licensees abide by the conditions of Pagcor, a monitoring task force called “Task Force Pogo” will be created to conduct surveillance and monitoring activities and report violations committed by these firms. The monitoring task force will be composed of key personnel from Pagcor, National Bureau of Investigation and Bureau of Immigration.
An offshore gaming license is a non-transferrable privilege and not a vested right, and may be suspended or cancelled at any time by the Pagcor board of directors if the licensee commits an offense against Philippine antigambling laws or violates any condition attached to the license, Pagcor said.
Pagcor said it had been taking bolder steps to enforce stricter gaming regulatory policies in its aim to curtail the proliferation of electronic gaming and to ensure that they are properly regulated and monitored. In mid-August, 286 e-games sites were closed down when the contract of Philweb expired and was no longer renewed.
The e-Games sites were internet cafes exclusively dedicated to casino games including baccarat, blackjack, various slot machine games, video poker and others. Most cafes operated on a 24/7 basis. Players have to go to an e-games outlet physically, during which each patron was subjected to the stringent identify requirements to ensure that they are of proper age and that they are not employees of government entities. Pagcor itself owned the e-Games casinos which were in turn operated by Philweb as a technology service provider.
Furthermore, Pagcor said about 200 licenses of various electronic gaming sites would soon be revoked due to noncompliance with regulations.
“Pagcor is strongly committed to carrying out its mandate, that of strictly monitoring and regulating all games of chance in the country that fall within the ambit of its charter,” the state agency said.
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