Casinos shift online


    The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) is hoping the implementation of online casino gaming for local gamblers, eyed late this month or early next year, will boost revenues and deter illegal gambling.

    Andrea Domingo, Pagcor chairperson, said in a virtual interview yesterday with the Asia Gaming Brief the application of several brick and mortar Philippine-based casino operators to bring their games online had been approved.

    Domingo said these will be called Liveshots and will be available to Philippine-based players who are in the operators’ player tracking system.

    “For the casino-based online gaming, which we call the Liveshots, for example in Solaire, we are very, very strict that only the VIP players that are in their player tracking system and are registered with them, would be able to play,” Domingo said.

    “(Aside from Solaire), Okada, also City of Dreams and the one in Subic. They have applied.

    The one in Subic has also been approved and they’re still testing their software because we are very, very careful that we are able to regulate fully, not only for revenues, but also because we don’t want people who are not qualified and who are not allowed by law to play to play,” she added.

    Domingo said implementation of the online gambling from brick and mortar operators will allow the agency to collect more revenues and to stop illegal gambling.

    “There’s a lot of illegal gambling on social media. But if this is made available, legally, then the players are more protected and we’re able to do a better way of regulating it, that’s what we are focusing on,” Domingo said.

    “(We see this going live) maybe later this month or early next year. We’re still testing everything. We just want to be careful,” she added.

    Domingo said while the brick and mortar casino operators have recovered a lot in the past two months amid quarantine measures implemented due to the pandemic, and that they are “looking at a very good month for December,” the operation level is still at 50 percent for most.

    “The older people who can afford to really play are not allowed to go out of their houses.

    For slot machines, this is the huge, huge audience, huge portion of our players. So now if they’re able to do that (online casino), we will be able to get that market back and safer,” Domingo said.

    She added Pagcor is also waiting for approval from President Duterte for e-sabong or online cock fighting.

    “We’re still awaiting the approval of the Office of the President. We have made our recommendations and they’re still studying,” Domingo said.

    Meanwhile, Domingo also gave an update on the status of the Philippine offshore gaming operations industry, saying that about 35 operators with about 138 service providers have restarted their business after the easing of stricter quarantine measures.

    “It’s getting better. For example, even if they’ve been closed for almost seven, eight months, when we opened up in September it was kind of slow but in October and November it was really good so that we were able, actually, to meet all of our revised targets,” Domingo said.

    “By the yearend we should be able to come up with a positive, and we’d probably be making P33 billion to P34 billion, in spite of having been opened only for about four months, five months at the most,” she added.

    “Starting the second quarter of 2021, we’ll be doing probably as well as what we did in 2019,” Domingo said. (A. Celis)