PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Andrea Domingo says the moratorium placed on the issuance of both new land-based and online gaming licenses by President Rodrigo Duterte is aimed at giving the Philippines regulator time to fully develop its regulatory policies.
Delivering the keynote address to open the inaugural G2E Asia @ the Philippines at Manila Marriott on Tuesday, Domingo said that placing such restrictions on new licenses had allowed PAGCOR to develop a more complete understanding of what was needed with the results to be fully felt by 2020.
“As far as POGOs (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators) are concerned we have stopped acceptance of new applicants. This is to give us time to mature ourselves at PAGCOR so we can put in all of the regulations that we need to put in,” she said.
“The offshore gaming here is two-and-a-half years old and we have learned 90% of what we need to but the remaining 10% is so reliant on technology that we just have to learn more about it.
“We’ve done the computations, the policies and I think by 2020 we will have addressed 95% if not 97% of POGO including the dark side – prostitution, kidnapping, financing.
“We have a very complete understanding of what we have to do so by next year, first quarter, you will see us going into a more sophisticated way of operations in our own casinos and of regulation of the licensed operations.”
Referencing both the on and offline industries in the Philippines, Domingo said that PAGCOR “doesn’t want to overburden the industry by blatantly giving out licenses” following the January 2018 announcement by Duterte of a moratorium on new casino licenses, followed by a similar move to limit POGO licenses in August of this year.
Addressing the moratorium on land-based properties, which is expected to last until 2022, Domingo explained, “The reason for this is that we have to have a critical mass in the different areas of the country where people who would like to go there can be accommodated.
“So we are allowing two casinos in Cebu, there will be six here in Metro Manila (including Westside City Resorts World and Solaire North) and a maximum of nine or 10 in Clark. The President lifted the ban in Clark last year and PAGCOR has observed that, but now we think Clark has enough casinos.
“We want to rationalize so that everyone we give a license to has a very good chance of being successful. That is the overall framework we are going into. These are the things we have been discussing with the board and will be implementing in 2020.”