PIGOs: domestic gaming opportunities in the Philippines

The Philippines is leading the way in regulated gaming offerings, having introduced inland gaming operators (PIGOS) during the pandemic and exploring all types of different products, from sports betting to Bingo. In a special panel, top PIGO operators in the country point out what improvements can be made – such as cracking down on illegal operators, and where they see the largest advantages as they re-tool their approach in what is becoming a very crowded space.

Moderated by Bromhead Holdings CEO Rodney Hall, the panel features Jade Entertainment CEO Joe Pisano, Philweb Corp President Brian Ng and AB Leisure Exponent Chairman Elvis Chan.

Please find a summary of the session below:

00:38 – Differences between PIGOs and POGOs. PIGOs directed towards domestic market, not full online gaming, online component remote to land-based property – including sports betting, egaming and bingo.

PIGO license must have association with a land-based property.

License needs cash deposit, application fees, within 18 months must be associated with 30 land-based properties, 10 properties within the first six months of operation.

02:35 – Now 20 PIGO licenses. Very crowded space. PAGCOR has lowered some of the requirements. Text spamming, social media increased as providers fought for space.

06:20 – For Philippine market, most important is grabbing a lot of users instead of just VIP. Bingo is the most non-gaming category in the gaming market. Bingo market attracts players but many also transfer to other games.

09:15 – PIGO operators attempted to engage networks (who were operating underground operations), to attract their customer base to legal operations. Illegals are mostly operating in sports book as opposed to online casino.

12:46 – Illegals are currently the biggest competitor and not the other PIGOs. Enablers of illegals that need to be gone after – platform providers, game providers, biggest enablers are payment solutions. Regulators working together – PAGCOR, Curacao, Isle of Man, Gibraltar, Malta – if they report back and they take action, can help. 

15:20 – Certain education path on sports betting platforms. Major market is NBA basketball, and tennis and table tennis. Certain sports betting sites can be overwhelming.

17:41 – Could horse race betting be allowed on a stream-based offering from overseas? Dog racing streaming is already started, hope to include horse racing.

19:10 – Seeing a lot of interest in live. Live Bingo has shown a very strong performance, before had live cockfighting, now there’s a live billiard product. Operators are also looking at organizing events themselves. Due to eCasino saturation, could have a number of live studio products that could come into the market soon.

22:08 – Expanding to multiple product lines, aligning offline and online is key. Want to provide same product, same payment, same promotion across online and offline.

24:00 – Online and offline compliment each other. Performance of venues are already approaching or exceeding pre-pandemic levels – but for now is 70/30, still land-based mostly. Younger demographics don’t want to go to venues. Venues themselves need to be reinvented. Looking at live-style games in venues and running those live games as an attraction in itself. Model of past 10-12 years needs to be reinvented.

26:50 – Any reason for PIGOs to not be allowed to operate in other markets? No. Have robust systems, AML, responsible gaming, KYC, payments, no reason not to allow operators to extend what is being done in the Philippines to other legal jurisdictions.

Want to lobby regulator to allow all PIGOs to go into other markets. Would bring additional income into the country.

28:30 – All operators are concerned with illegals. Two types. One bets in chat group, with agent: player pattern which will be overcome by new tech – happening a lot in sports betting. Other form is competitive products, lot of experience overseas and local resources – those need combine efforts upstream and downstream to overcome them.

30:22 – There’s a need to have an association where operators can speak as a combined voice to the regulator. Can help to air concerns and bring new ideas to the government. Something like a digital identity for players could be beneficial.

32:20 – There’s a lot of effort by the Philippine regulator to address gaps. No products are currently off the table. See PAGCOR as a partner.