Pagcor asserts authority over offshore online gaming
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. on Friday asserted its authority over the offshore online gaming sector — a previously unregulated sector of the local casino industry — amid a legal challenge by a “concerned group” about the scope of the regulator’s powers.
In a press statement, Pagcor said its move to grant a new type of license called the Philippine Online Gaming Operation (Pogo) is “within the bounds of its charter” which authorizes it to “operate, authorize and license games of chance, games of cards, and games of numbers” in the country.
“Gaming or gambling, as defined, is ‘a game of scheme, whether upon chance or skills wherein wagers consisting of money or articles of value or representative of value are made,’” the state-run agency said, adding that the location of the player — whether in the Philippines or overseas — is immaterial.
“As long as the game is produced and its operation managed within the Philippine territory, it falls within Pagcor’s jurisdiction,” it said. “The Pogo rules, precisely was issued to regulate online gaming being produced in the Philippines despite being streamed abroad.”
Earlier, a group calling itself the Union for National Development and Good Governance-Philippines (UNLAD-Philippines) asked the Supreme Court to nullify the regulation which allows Pagcor to issue offshore gaming licenses.
The group asked the high court to immediately stop the gaming regulator from implementing the licenses for offshore gaming, saying Pagcor has no legal basis to issue the rules on offshore gaming since its mandate supposedly does not allow it to grant franchise to online gaming catering to foreign players and gamblers outside the Philippine’s territorial jurisdiction.
Pagcor disputed this, saying it is in the best position to regulate online games.
“If we are to agree with their proposition that Pagcor is bereft of regulatory authority over these online gaming operators, then who has the authority to regulate online games in the Philippines?,” it said. “Would it be the recipient countries or the Philippine economic zones granted by law to issue gaming licenses who should regulate? Following their own argument, the recipient countries and economic zones, obviously cannot exercise their authorities outside of their own territorial jurisdictions.”
With the launch of Pogo, Pagcor said it has already collected P936 million from application and processing fees alone, excluding gaming taxes to be paid in the coming months.
“Considering that Pagcor remits 72 percent of its gross revenues to the government and its mandated beneficiaries, the revenues that it will generate from Pogo will certainly help Pagcor in further fulfilling its role as the government’s partner in nation-building,” it added.