March 7, 2018

Online gaming in the Philippines – what is the situation?

Online gaming in the Philippines

Online gaming in the Philippines has the potential to produce large revenues. The problem is that the situation around the legality of gambling online in the country is complex. There is also currently only a low level of auditing in place in the industry. Having said all of this, the Philippines is a popular place to have a license for many gaming providers, due to its proximity to the rest of Asia.

It’s clear to see that this popularity is leading to plenty of license applications. The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has already approved around 45 licenses, with more than 40 more waiting to be processed.

The gaming industry in the Philippines

Gambling is not a new phenomenon in the Philippines; it’s been around since the 1500s. The difference is that now the government is starting to regulate the activity; although it’s still early days. The majority of land-based and online gambling in the Philippines is controlled by PAGCOR. Although, the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) and Freeport is not under complete control. It’s here that many independent casinos operate, for the benefit of tourists.

Some aspects of sports betting in the Philippines  are also not regulated by PAGCOR. All horse racing betting is regulated by the Games and Amusements Board (GAB).

The legalities of online gambling

The situation with online gaming in the Philippines is different to that surrounding land based operations. Operators that are based in the country, or want to be licensed in the country, need to be approved by PAGCOR. Once they have a license they still cannot provide online gaming services to Philippine nationals. This may seem odd and you may wonder why these providers would want a Philippines license in the first place. The fact is that the Philippines is attractive as a base because it lies in close proximity to the huge potential of the wider online gaming market in Asia.

It’s also important to note that it’s not technically illegal for citizens of the Philippines to gamble online. This means that although they may not be able to use the services of an online casino that is licensed in the country, they can use an offshore casino that has no links to the Philippines. It will be interesting to see how this situation progresses as the online gaming market in the Philippines expands.

There is certainly plenty of scope for the online gaming market in the Philippines to grow, if the last couple of years is anything to go by. In the first half of 2017 alone 83,960 square meters of office space in the country was taken up by online gaming providers. One of the main threats to this growth is the ambiguity of the laws surrounding online gaming, which will need to be addressed. There is also a lack of auditing functionality and security in online systems based in the Philippines. There is still a lot of work to be done, but it does seem as though the online gaming industry in the Philippines is here to stay.

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