Philippines gaming regulator PAGCOR says it is waiting on approval from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for COVID-19 to resume land-based gaming operations nationwide after submitting an appeal for relaunch last month.
Asked by Inside Asian Gaming this week if there was any clarity on when Manila casinos and integrated resorts would be allowed to reopen for business after the Philippines capital saw its COVID-19 restrictions downgraded from Enhanced Community Quarantine to General Community Quarantine on Monday, PAGCOR revealed it has already made such a request, including a list of proposed safety guidelines operators have agreed to follow.
Those guidelines involve the wearing of facemasks at all times while inside establishments, strict compliance to social distancing at all times, limiting casino operations to no more than 50% capacity both on table games and EGMs, and preventing standing bettors or people loitering in gaming areas.
PAGCOR said it is hoping casinos will be approved for operations once Manila and other areas revert to Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) – possibly as soon as 16 June when GCQ restrictions come under further review.
“PAGCOR’s legal mandate is to operate as well as regulate the gaming industry, and as we do this, we are able to generate revenues to help in nation building efforts,” PAGCOR told IAG. “Presently, our secondary aim is to basically maximize revenue generation with little to no risk of spreading the virus.
“On 1 May, the IATF for COVID-19 approved PAGCOR’s recommendation for the partial resumption of POGOs, subject to strict government requirements and stringent health protocols set by our Health Department. Given the nature of online gaming, there is no need for face to face interaction with customers, hence, a lower risk means of earning funds for the government.
“Last month, PAGCOR likewise submitted its appeal to also allow the resumption of land-based gaming operations, with all the proposed safety and health protocols to be implemented. The safety protocols and guidelines prepared by PAGCOR and the Integrated Resorts and Casinos are well-crafted so they are even more secure and safe compared to other businesses that are now in operation.
“Approval of our recommendation lies in the hands of the government’s IATF.”
PAGCOR added that by seeking approval to resume land-based gaming operations, the regulator hoped to provide job security for gaming employees across the country.
“While we await the IATF’s decision on our recommendation and the completion of resumption requirements of POGO operators and service providers, PAGCOR and its licensees are preparing both our facilities and employees for the anticipated reopening,” it said.