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PAGCOR chairman encourages new investors amid strong result for 2023

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“Now is the time to come to the Philippines”. That was the message PAGCOR chairman Alejandro Tengco gave at ICE London and amidst strong results for 2023.

During an interview with Asia Gaming Brief at the recent International Casino Exhibition in London, PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Alejandro H. Tengco had one clear message: the Philippines is open for business and ready to serve as a stable base for operators from across the globe. His remarks came as the Philippines gambling regulator revealed strong results for the last year, recording an increase of over 90 percent in online gaming activities in 2023 compared to the previous year.

Revenues in the eGaming sector that includes e-games, e-bingo, specialty games and sports betting, reached PHP 58.16 billion ($1.03 billion), which is a 92.32% increase from previous earnings and over 1,000 E-Gaming sites were licensed in the Philippines in 2023. The regulator is expecting to continue this journey of success and projecting revenues of PHP 61.75 billion ($1.09 billion) for the E-Games sector in 2024.

During the Asia Round Table discussions at ICE London, Chairman Tengco highlighted the fact that the Philippines is currently the only Southeast Asian country regulating online gambling, and that much progress has been made to clean up the image of the sector. Especially the issues of POGOs and the apparent expansion of these operators from gambling into other, often illegitimate, activities in the past has been a focus for PAGCOR in recent times.

Over 250 previous Master and Sub Licensees under the old POGO scheme had to reapply since 2023, and the current number of licensees stands at 75. Despite this reduction in numbers, Tengco mentioned that revenues are up, highlighting the benefits of balanced regulation. To achieve this, PAGCOR is reducing its fees, thereby encouraging operators to obtain official government approval for their businesses and making illegal and unlicensed operations less appealing.

PAGCOR-2023

Its approach is not only bearing fruit in the Philippines, but also being noticed by neighboring countries. The PAGCOR boss shared that a delegation from Cambodia had approached him during the annual event to discuss the best approach to regulating land based and online gambling. Asked if he sees the Philippines as a leader when it comes to cleaning up and regulating gambling, Tengco agreed: “I believe that. Where we stand today in Southeast Asia, definitely, I do not only see, but I can claim that we are the leader in Asia now in terms of properly regulating online gaming and overseas gaming licenses.”

When asked about a new approach to prevent unlicensed online operators from accepting players from the Philippines by targeting the games suppliers they use rather than just blocking websites, Tengco said that the idea is currently being explored: “I have already given instructions to the head of the electronic gaming licensing department to look in the matter. I’m expecting that group to present to me how we will regulate all those game providers or service providers who supply games to our licensees.”

He encouraged investors to come to the Philippines and use the country as their base for online and land-based enterprises. When questioned if the country might follow the example of Macau in the future and place increased focus on non-gaming activities in the land based sector, he stated that plans differ from those of its north-westerly neighbor: “I think it will be a different model. We will continue to encourage investment in integrated resorts that offer a lot of things, not just gaming. If Macau is gearing towards non-gaming as they were saying, I think ours will be a combination.”

Frank Schuengel
Frank Schuengel
Frank Schuengel is an online gambling industry veteran with over twenty years of experience in Europe and Asia. Equally at home in the Isle of Man and the Philippines, he started his career as a sports trader before setting up and running whole operations, and more recently focusing on the regulatory and licensing side of things in the worlds of fiat and crypto eGaming. When he is not writing about gambling topics, he can be found cycling around Manila and advocating sustainable transport solutions for a Philippines based mobility magazine.

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