IMGL Magazine April 2022

Philippines licensing policy

The Philippines Inland Gaming Operator scheme in review Set up to provide a lifeline to land-based operators during the various lockdowns, the Philippines Inland Gaming Operator (PIGO) scheme has been in operation for well over a year. Phil Savage reviews how it’s working and asks whether it can provide a model for South East Asia and beyond.

Introduction The Philippines onshore gaming and gambling industry generated GGR of around US$3 billion in 2017. The industry employed 132,000 direct hires in 2019 and contributed more than US$1.5 billion in tax revenues. Revenues are split into three unequal parts with non-junket casino GGR of US$1.18 billion, junket casino GGR of US$828 million and slots GGR of just over US$1 billion. 1 The regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) is the largest contributor of revenue to the government after the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs. Indeed, PAGCOR has as its primary remit the generation of tax from gaming operators. Despite a thriving venue-based industry and evidence from the

popularity of unregulated offshore operators, PAGCOR has been reluctant to countenance expansion by operators into online gaming and gambling. The Philippines reacted to the outbreak of Covid-19 in similar ways to other jurisdictions: non-essential retail outlets were closed and tourism suspended, which had a devastating impact on the country’s gambling industry. Compared to the previous year, PAGCOR revenues declined by 60.41 percent to US$624 million, the lowest for seven years. Income from Philippine Offshore Gambling Operators (POGOs) was the least affected by the decrease declining 18 percent to less than US$97 million while income from junket gaming operations was halved compared to 2019. In an attempt to provide business continuity to operators

1 Source PAGCOR

38 • IMGL Magazine • April 2022

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