DFNN gets Philippines first online casino license

DFNN CEO Calvin Lim

DFNN has been awarded the rights for the first regulated online casino in the Philippines, as the country opens its doors to domestic online gaming.

The Philippine gaming technology company will be offering its services through the URL inplay .ph. Few other details were immediately available. 

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR) already regulates and hosts online gaming companies who offer their services overseas, known as Philippine Offshore Gambling Operators (POGOs). However offering services to locals was banned and the only access to online gambling for Filipinos was through the country’s network of eCafes.

The POGOs proved a highly lucrative business. Prior to the pandemic, PAGCOR Chair Andrea Domingo had been eyeing revenue of Php16 billion to Php18 billion (US$314 million to US$354 million) this year, more than three times what it earned in 2019.

However, a high number of firms have left, or are leaving the country, with the Covid-19 pandemic proving the final straw on top of the rising cost of doing business and efforts to extract more tax revenue. Only 33 POGOs have been given the greenlight to resume operations post-Covid, out of 55 companies registered on PAGCOR’s website.

With the land-based sector also providing little to no revenue due to Covid-19-mandated closures and restrictions, PAGCOR has been looking for ways to fill its coffers. Half of the regulator’s revenue goes to the government for charitable and social projects.

Last month, Bloomberry Resorts’ Solaire Resort & Casino became the first land-based operator to be given permission to accept online bets from its VIP clients. PAGCOR has also received requests from the other operators to do the same, though so far has not announced whether permission has been granted. 

“The need to go online, or go mobile has never been greater,” DFNN CEO said in a recent interview. “We have several initiatives in the pipeline that I believe will revolutionize the industry moving forward.”

The Philippines is seen as a potentially highly lucrative market for low-cost mobile games for those able to get the right product. DFNN has a network of about 6,313 gaming terminals throughout the country.