PAGCOR gets stringent over monitoring online gaming in Philippines

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Though  the unauthorised  internet casino industry made a niche for itself using smoke and mirrors before the government of its rightful share of revenues, the introduction of a new computer system will promptly enable the state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to oversee the integrity of online betting outfits in real time and deliver data on how much they truly make and how much fees the state should collect.

The Pagcor Chair, Andrea Domingo, stated: “The state gaming regulator was set to be activated by next month a “third-party audit service” that would—apart from providing a fuller picture of the revenue stream of Philippine offshore gaming operator (Pogo) firms—also boost the confidence of foreign bettors in the quality of locally domiciled online casinos.This system will be in place by March, and it will prevent cheating in the revenue reporting of Pogos and their service providers.”

And she disclosed in a text message, explicating that the monitoring software was now in the final stages of integration with the country’s 45-odd online gaming licensees. The monitoring software is a key element that will double Pagcor’s revenues from online gaming from P3 billion in 2017 to an estimated P6 billion this year. Domingo added: “It is important to note that the audit service provider will not get paid if their service does not yield increases in revenues.”

The Pogo scheme —where only foreign bettors are allowed to play in Philippine-based online casino sites —was conceptualised under Domingo’s term as Pagcor chair to enable the government to capture a greater share of the growing online gaming pie that was previously unregulated and unchecked by national authorities.

In the past, the Cagayan Export Zone Authority hosted more than 200 online gaming operations at its special economic zone and Freeport in Aparri, Cagayan. The scheme brought the government only P56 million in yearly revenue, in contrast to the sharp uptick in the state’s share when Pagcor stepped in to regulate the lucrative business.

“The foreign bettors will be more confident of getting fair play with this system, and they know that that they will be protected against fraud,” the Pagcor Chief said.

She explained that, in the past, some “fly-by-night” operators would simply close shop and “disappear” whenever they are unable to pay clients’ winnings — something that will no longer happen under the new system, which will even allow regulators to “lock out” any Pogo operator found to have violated operating procedures.