By Chino S. Leyco
London – The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) said that it will no longer approve new applications for land-based casinos in the country in compliance with President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s order.
Pagcor Chairman Andrea D. Domingo said that they have imposed a moratorium on new brick-and-mortar casino operations, citing that President Duterte has noticed the “proliferation” of several gambling sites nationwide.
“The President has told me on January 11 to freeze new casinos,” Domingo told reporters.
She said Pagcor stopped accepting new applications effected January 13 this year, or a day after the chief executive gave his order.
“He just told me to freeze it for now, so we made that as a board policy,” she added.
Asked what was the President’s reason for ordering such as a policy, Domingo said “proliferation again” of casinos.
The moratorium on new casinos will be indefinite, Domingo said, citing there are also oversupply concerns among existing investors.
“We will let the market mature,” the Pagcor chief said. “We are now drafting a memorandum based on President Duterte’s pronouncement.”
In March last year, Pagcor clipped its licensing power for five years on new casinos in Metro Manila.
In 2017, the Philippine gaming industry’s gross gaming revenue amounted to P170 billion, exceeding the sector’s P160-billion target for the period.
“For last year, what made it really high is because of POGO [Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations], without POGO we will not reach the P170 billion,” Domingo said.
Pagcor received P3.1 billion in net revenue from online casinos last year.
Domingo, meanwhile, said that prospects for the country’s gaming business is “very bullish, very good” this year.