Philippines: Pagcor confirms moratorium on new POGO applications

  • The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. will temporarily stop accepting applications for Chinese-manned Philippine offshore gaming operation licenses amid concerns raised over the POGO industry, the PAGCOR chief said.
  • In a press briefing at the National Press Club, Pagcor chair and chief executive officer Andrea Domingo said the regulator would impose a moratorium on the issuance of licenses to offshore gaming firms seeking entry, until such time that it addresses all issues plaguing the industry.
  • “(The) moratorium on licenses (will last) at least until the end of 2019 and we will decide if this is enough or we will extend,” she added.
  • Currently, there are 58 POGOs licensed by PAGCOR. Domingo said the regulator would only accommodate three pending applications, which may bring the number up to a maximum of 61.
  • According to Domingo, PAGCOR has already started its review on the Philippine offshore gaming industry about three weeks ago, when misconceptions about POGO hubs surfaced.
  • She said the review seeks to address priority issues, including the social costs and security risks posed by the sector, as well as legitimacy of the players’ operations.
  • Aside from POGO licences, the government is also imposing a moratorium on the issuance of licenses to brick-and-mortar casinos. Domingo said it might be challenging for Pagcor to meet its growth target in terms of gross gaming revenues (GGR).
  • According to Domingo, PAGCOR has collected PHP11.9bn in gaming revenues from POGOs starting in 2016 to 2018. She said the agency has generated less than PHP4bn in 1H19.
  • For full-year 2019, PAGCOR is aiming to collect PHP8bn in gaming revenues from POGOs. This is targeted to rise to as much as PHP10bn next year.
  • However, Domingo dismissed the security concerns, saying the Chinese employed by POGOs are just here to gain work experience.

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