The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) is throwing out online gambling as a life preserver to beleaguered local casinos who are reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s an interesting change of course from the gambling regulator that’s used to overseeing more Chinese operations than local ones.
According to a recent report from Bloomberg.com, has okay’d online gambling applications from Bloomberry Resorts Corp.’s Solaire Resort and Casino, City of Dreams Manila, and Okada Manila. It’s a move that PAGCOR might likely have scoffed at in normal times, but is wide open to in these troubled times.
There are, however, a few strings attached to PAGCOR’s new openness to online gambling. Under the new licenses, casinos could only serve “known” customers. Presumably that means that players would have to sign up in person for their online account – though how that process works is not entirely clear. PAGCOR officials appear to still be working on the plan and are set to make studies on what regulated online gambling would look like in the country. Our colleagues at CalvinAyre.com, point out, that list of known individuals could be limited to high rollers.
Richard Laneda, an analyst at COL Financial Group Inc. told Bloomberg that the move was strictly business saying it was done so that casinos could, “Survive and get through the pandemic until they are allowed by government to fully operate. This is a way for them to earn some revenue.”
In short, it appears as though limited regulated, local online gambling will be allowed in the Philippines. The bigger question is, once the online gambling genie’s been let out of the bottle, how will PAGCOR get it back in again?