ldquo;Pagcor will not accept Mr. Roberto V. Ongpin’s offer to donate 49 percent of his shares in PhilWeb to Pagcor,” Pagcor CEO Andrea Domingo said yesterday.
“The issue is not RVO or PhilWeb per se. It is the President’s and his government’s opposition to online and onsite gaming because of the social ills and decay they foist on our communities as they cater to the more economically vulnerable portion of our population,” Domingo said, referring to Ongpin by his initials.
With Pagcor’s rejection and without a license to operate, PhilWeb has no choice but to shut down
PhilWeb has yet to issue a statement on Pagcor’s rejection but insiders said employees broke into tears upon hearing the news.
On Wednesday, Ongpin offered to donate 49 percent of his shares to Pagcor – valued at roughly P4.6 billion based on that day’s closing price – in hopes of making Pagcor change its mind about not renewing PhilWeb’s contract.
Ongpin said he also made the offer to save the jobs of more than 6,000 PhilWeb workers.
On Wednesday, PhilWeb’s shares closed at P8.80, up by 35.38 percent from the level before Pagcor rejected Ongpin’s offer.
“As we all know, Pagcor under its charter is both a regulator and an operator and, in fact, operates several casinos all over the country. There is no reason which would prevent Pagcor from being the largest shareholder of PhilWeb,” Ongpin earlier said in making the offer to donate his PhilWeb shares.
In her response, Domingo reiterated the Duterte administration’s initiative to correct imperfections in the government’s gaming policies.
“The campaign to correct or stop previous gaming policies that bring about such pernicious social conditions just had to start with PhilWeb, simply because its license had expired. Pagcor will deal with similar cases involving other parties accordingly,” Domingo pointed out.
Ongpin, who owns 771.7 million shares in PhilWeb equivalent to a 53.76 percent stake, tried to sell his shares to take the heat off the company after President Duterte named him as an oligarch who must be destroyed
An open auction, which started on Aug. 10 or the day PhiWeb’s license expired, ended at noon on Wednesday.
Despite receiving five bids, he said he decided not to push through with the awarding because of Pagcor’s pronouncements that it would not renew PhilWeb’s license.
His announcement to donate shares to Pagcor surprised company officials and employees.
His offer to donate was contained in a letter to Domngo. “Why 49 percent? This is simply to avoid PhilWeb being classified as a government-owned and controlled corporation which would make the various restrictions applicable to GOCCs (and) result in making PhilWeb’s operation untenable,” Ongpin said in his letter to Domingo.
He also bared in his letter a plan to donate 4.7 percent to the Ateneo de Manila University JVO Scholarship Fund, named after his late brother, former Finance minister Jaime V. Ongpin.
PhilWeb is behind e-Games Stations, which are Internet cafés exclusively dedicated to casino games. With technology provided by PhilWeb, patrons can choose from more than 300 casino games, including baccarat, blackjack, various slot machine games, video poker and sports betting.
There were 287 operating e-Games cafés across the country, a majority of which are owned and operated by 131 independent entrepreneurs. The e-Games network has some 6,000 employees.