BIZ BUZZ: Tighter Pogo rules finalized
Amid tough scrutiny from lawmakers, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) board recently approved a new playbook that will tighten the screening and make it a lot costlier for Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos) to exist in this jurisdiction.
Based on the 35-page new Offshore Gaming Regulatory Manual (OGRM) seen by Biz Buzz, an internet gaming licensee must have an authorized capital stock of at least P100 million, of which P25 million should be paid up.
This is as big as the minimum capital required of new stock brokerage houses in the country. The hefty capital demanded by regulators is likely in response to the emergence of fly-by-night and other unscrupulous Pogo players.
Previously, the minimum capital was only set at P15 million (of which P3 million must be paid up) and P100 million was required only for those building large Pogo hubs.
Pogos’ gaming content and other support providers are likewise subjected to the same hefty capitalization requirement. The authorization of these providers is valid for two years.
The application fee is now set at $100,000 for internet gaming license, gaming content and support provider authorization. Previously, there were different fees for different types of license and accreditation.
All internet gaming licensees will now have to pay monthly fees based on the following, whichever is the highest amount:
-2 percent of gross gaming revenues or GGR (total bets minus total payouts), of which unsettled dues will be slapped with compounded interest of 12 percent per annum until fully settled;
-at least $100,000 minimum guarantee fee, or
-monthly fees based on the number of live tables for those who manage their own tables, ranging from $150,000 (for one to 15 tables) to $550,000 (for 46 to 55 tables).
The old manual circa 2018 already specified a fee equivalent to 2 percent of GGR and minimum guarantee fees depending on the license ($150,000 for e-casino, $40,000.00 for sports betting) but did not charge based on table count.
These are on top of administrative fees computed based on area occupied, which could be as much as $100,000 monthly for those with a footprint of 20,001 to 25,000 square meters.
For its part, Pagcor explained in the document that five years into its life cycle, the OGRM was due for a “major revision,” especially as some players had been found to be involved in scams and other fraudulent activities.
“As a result, the offshore gaming industry’s credibility has been tainted, in addition to the previous issues that have hounded it, which have even led to calls for the outright ban of the industry,” the document said.
“While imposing fines and issuing suspension/cancellation orders are easier ways to respond to these violations, it cannot be ignored that there is a need to revisit current regulations.”
A July 10 Pagcor memorandum to stakeholders stated that the new manual had already been cleared by its board on July 6 and would soon be published.
Ergo, “all licensees and service providers under the previous regulations are deemed to be on probationary status and are required to undergo reapplication, conformably with the new guidelines, starting July 17, 2023 until Sept. 17, 2023.”
Watch out, Swifties!
International pop star Taylor Swift, who is arguably the biggest artist now, is embarking on a world tour and the fans are more than willing to spend for tickets to watch her live and just bask in her presence. After all, who wouldn’t want to sing along with her when she performs “Cruel Summer”?
Unfortunately, the “Speak Now” singer’s Eras Tour is also a great opportunity for cyberhackers to take advantage of Swifties trying to secure tickets for the sold-out concerts.
Adrian Hia, managing director for Asia Pacific at cybersecurity company Kaspersky, said that concertgoers should watch out for potential ticket sale scams.
“It (Taylor Swift concert) is a big thing for the Philippines. Any big events on e-commerce, any big online activity will create a lot of interest,” he explained.
Usually, such cyberattacks are in the form of phishing sent out via emails or mobile messages, tricking people into giving out their personal information.
A lot of Filipino Swifties tried their luck to buy a ticket for her concert in Singapore next year as it is her only stop in Southeast Asia (so far). By the looks of it, many succeeded but many were also left heartbroken by the “Lover” artist.