“I’m really confident that this industry is going to take off. For me this is a very good situation, we really want to get support from Pagcor [Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation],” said in a recent interview Brian Ang, president of Manila-based online casino Oriental Game. "We expect the Philippines’ offshore gambling sector to register a strong growth this year, as operators are expanding on the back of increasing popularity of i-gaming."
Ang said the government’s P6-billion revenue target for its Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) scheme is attainable, citing the industry is just starting to take off.
Earlier, Pagcor Chairman Andrea D. Domingo said that government revenue from POGO is expected to nearly double this year from P3.4 billion in 2017 to P6 billion.
Domingo explained POGO’s revenues will be boosted by Pagcor’s third-party consulting firm that will audit online gambling licensees’ financial activity.
For Oriental Game alone, Ang said the company plans to expand its operations in the Philippines by “gradually” increasing the number of its gaming tables from the current 22 to 31.
Along with more tables, Ang said that Oriental Game will also hire additional employees and even bring in overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Dubai, Qatar, China and South Korea.
“We’re going to expand our office as we try to make new games, and technology. So we need to hire more people locally or even bring back good people working in Dubai, Qatar, China, Korea,” the Oriental Game executive said.
Domingo had said that a number of foreign online casinos from Greece, Malta, among others have expressed interest to put up shops in the Philippines.
But despite the huge foreign interest in the country’s online gambling business, the Pagcor chief clarified that the industry remains strictly regulated by the government and cannot be accessed by local residents.
“Only foreigners outside the Philippines can play our licensed e-casinos. We have no plans to open it to local players,” Domingo said.
Currently there are 55 POGO licensed operations in the country. Of which, 45 are online casinos and 10 sports betting operators.
“The reason we’re projecting P6 billion is because we have this now the audit provider. They’re now installing the application, which integrates the systems of online casinos and Pagcor. We can now see real time bets,” Domingo said.
Meanwhile, Domingo said that Pagcor will cap the number of its online gambling licenses at 50 until it can determine whether there is enough demand to meet the supply.
“We’re very strict to the quality, we won’t allow fly-by-night operators that once they get hit, they don’t pay and transfer, put another name. That happened before — a lot of it. That will not happen this time,” Domingo said.
Sought for comment about Pagcor’s cap on POGO, Ang said he is supporting the government’s decision.