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NGO Challenges PAGCOR’s Authority to Issue Offshore Licences

- December 12, 2016 By Oliver Young -

PAGCOR already issued 35 offshore licences.

UNLAD thinks that PAGCOR should not issue offshore licences.

A lot of things regarding gambling and online gambling in the Philippines have changed since anti-gambling President Duterte rose to power. He pledged to stop online gambling in the country and we saw the results of that approach pretty soon after he was elected.

The newly-appointed chief of PAGCOR, the gambling regulatory body of the Philippines seemed to be in line with the President and this summer, PAGCOR revoked the licences of over 120 operators. It seemed that the regulator was to take a harsher stance, particularly towards online gambling operators who are registered outside of the Philippines.

The Supreme Court Will Decide

Now, PAGCOR has been challenged by an NGO which submitted a request to the Supreme Court of the Philippines, asking it to decide whether or not PAGCOR has a remit and an authority to regulate offshore gambling. The NGO felt that the PAGCOR is working outside of the legal frame and that it should not be in charge of regulating casino operators that are based in the country but work offshore.

Union of National Development and Good Governance-Philippines (UNLAD) is the name of the organisation that filled the request. They went as far as claiming that the licences issued by the PAGCOR are unconstitutional. Furthermore, they also claimed that PAGCOR can’t issue licences to companies that also provide gambling services to players who are residing abroad.

PAGCOR, understandably, disagreed with UNLAD and it published a statement on the issue. The regulator argued that issuing offshore gambling licences is completely within its charter. PAGCOR added that since companies are going to work inside the country, it is entirely their job to supervise and regulate the work of the operators. Furthermore, PAGCOR also has an ability to sanction operators who are not working within the legal framework.

The New Licences Will Provide Higher Revenue for PAGCOR

The announcement that PAGCOR would be able to issue licences to companies that will be allowed to work offshore came after the country adopted a stricter stance towards online gambling under Duterte. PAGCOR then granted the first 35 licences various gambling operators. Operators are able to offer gambling services to every person aged 21 or older in any country where online gambling is legal, but not to Philippine citizens.

All operators that want to apply for an offshore licence have to $50,000 if they want a casino licence or $40,000 if they want a sports betting licence, as soon as they file the application. If their applications are granted, then operators have to play additional $200,000 and $150,000 for casino and sports betting licences respectively.

PAGCOR announced that it is to collect almost 940 million Philippine pesos, or over $18.5 million. The amount should be collected from the operators within the upcoming months.

PAGCOR pays more than 70% of its total revenue directly to the Philippine Government. It was pointed out that issuing the new licences will generate revenue that can be used by the Government in order to provide services to the Philippine citizens. Generally, the money that is provided by PAGCOR is used for different purposes, aimed at increasing the standard of living in the country.

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