With friendly environment, Philweb forecasts profitable comeback in 2018
Gaming firm Philweb Corp. sees a potential return to profitability in the fourth quarter of this year leading to a full-year turnaround by 2018, confident its business as a gaming service provider will be backed by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor).
“We’re moving towards renewal. We’re here for a fresh start,” Philweb president Dennis Valdes told shareholders during the company’s annual stockholders meeting on Wednesday.
After its founder and former controlling stockholder sold a major stake to businessman Gregorio Araneta III, Philweb received a provisional certificate of accreditation from Pagcor to be an electronic gaming system (EGS) service provider that can offer software and other services to operators of Pagcor-licensed gaming sites. However, it has yet to receive a notice to operate.
Philweb had undergone a tough environment since President Duterte assumed office. Its intellectual property license agreement with Pagcor was not renewed when it expired on Aug. 10 last year.
Philweb used to service a network of 286 internet cafes exclusively dedicated to casino games such as baccarat, blackjack, various slot machine games, video poker and others, most of which operated on a 24/7 basis.
Mr. Duterte’s apparent wrath prompted Philweb’s founder and former chair Roberto V. Ongpin to sell his controlling stake to Araneta, who now chairs the company.
Araneta told reporters that it could take a while to get back to the same level of earnings that the company enjoyed prior to 2016. Philweb remitted over P2 billion to Pagcor in 2015, the last full year that it operated before its contract with the state-run gaming regulator expired.
Still, Araneta said, “expectations are high because of what we did for our operators.” In recent months, Philweb acquired a number of Pagcor e-Games stations from independent operators using shares held in treasury as payment.
To date, Philweb is operating 21 gaming sites, doubling the network since the last quarter and generating enough cash flow to service outstanding loans, Valdes told the firm’s stockholders.
“We’re looking at an aggressive start for the year,” he said, adding that apart from acquiring new gaming sites, Philweb had invested P100 million in new servers.
With the Pagcor accreditation, Philweb can begin to offer services beyond its co-owned outlets. While some gaming operators have tapped other providers since it temporarily bowed out, Valdes expressed confidence these operators would return to Philweb’s fold.—DORIS DUMLAO-ABADILLA
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