Philippine Gaming Regulators Whistle Different Tune for Foreign Operators
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) is opening its doors to foreign operators. This stunning move comes just weeks after PAGCOR, acting at the behest of Philippines President Rorigo Duterte, is actively working to shut down their domestic-facing gaming industry.
According to a report from Reuters, PAGCOR is now offering online gaming licenses to operators that focus on international players. When issued, the licenses would be issued in six-month increments and PAGCOR did not make any mention of how many would be issued or what kind of tax structure they would adhere to, thought she did suggest that they will be expensive.
In fact, PAGCOR boss Andrea Domingo didn’t seem to know much about the licenses at all saying:
We don’t know yet how saleable it is. There might be no takers, or there could be many applicants. We’re readying the application forms. It’s no longer the Filipinos who are betting but foreigner
Given the fact that Domingo’s office has yanked the licenses of multiple domestic operators without warning and is unlikely to renew the remaining licenses, her offer to foreign-facing operators might not have many takers.
As it odd as the move sounds, it makes perfect sense when viewed through the lens of President Duterte, whose strongman approach to governance has earned criticism abroad, but enjoys popular support at home. Duterte claims that domestic bingo and lottery sites exploit the people of the Philippine Islands and are a moral scourge.
What does matter to the Duterte regime is the pile of tax revenues that online gaming sites and domestic bingo parlors dump into government coffers. After all, crushing the domestic e-gaming business would cost the government around $250 million (USD) a year in lost revenue.
Domingo added that the government would “finetune” the licensing process, “…if it is profitable.”