The Philippines administration has given brick and mortar casinos in Manila permission to start accepting bets via the internet in a bid to assist them in recovering from the hefty losses they’ve incurred due to the Coronavirus pandemic. According to a report by Bloomberg, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), the country’s gaming regulator, several Manila casinos have received licenses that give them the mandate to launch online gaming operations.
In an interview via mobile-phone messages, Alfredo Lim, the current PAGCOR president confirmed to the news outlet that the gaming watchdog had so far sanctioned online betting applications that were filed by three of the largest brick and mortar casinos in the Entertainment City gaming zone in Manila; the Universal Entertainment’s Okada Manila, Melco Resorts & Entertainment’s City of Dreams Manila, and Bloomberry Resorts’ Solaire Resort & Casino.
As wonderful as the news is, it is not such a surprise given that there had been talks of Philipines moving in this direction over the past month or so. In fact, last week, the PAGCOR even admitted to receiving propositions from a bunch of land-based operators in Manila, asking for authorization to start accepting wagers over the internet only from what the gambling facilities referred to as ‘known patrons.’ Upon the requests, The Philippine’s gambling ombudsman and other government departments started research studies to determine the viability of the casinos’ proposals.
Shares of Casino Stock Record Positive Movement after the Online Betting Approval
As has been the case in many other gambling legal regions across the globe, the gross gaming revenue for the Philippines had fallen sharply by 96% in Q2 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19 shutdowns introduced since March to try and contain the spread of the novel virus.
After the announcement of awarding online betting licenses, the shares of gaming properties in Manila rose in anticipation of a brighter future. Premium Leisure Corp, which collects its earnings from City of Dreams Manila recorded a significant jump in shares at 6.3% but later slowed down to close the trading day with a 3.1% increase. Bloomberry’s shares on the other hand hit a 4.2% high to experience the largest gain in a month to outperform the 0.2% advance of the Philippine benchmark stock index.
Is This a Provisional or Permanent Decision?
Presently, there’s no clear indication whether the decision to allow online betting in Manila casinos will stand for good or it’s just a temporary measure to give the gambling properties a chance for survival as the regulator also rakes in tax returns from the operators. Mind you, the brick-and-mortar gambling facilities are currently taking in patrons at 30% capacity, and there are still a lot of travel restrictions to the country – a predicament that has also taken a toll on the volume of gamblers that come to the Manila casinos which thrive on tourist gamblers.
Additionally, no one also knows whether residents of the Philippines are going to be allowed to legally access internet gambling from these new licensees. Currently, online gambling sites are run by Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) under a PAGCOR license, and Philippine residents are prohibited from accessing gaming services from the POGOs
Well, one of the key takeaways from the ‘known patrons’ request sent to the regulator indicates that the casinos are more interested in serving their existing client list of foreign high-roller VIP gamblers from whom they collect most of their revenue. Initially, the VIP gamblers used to access Philippine gambling services via proxy betting, where the high rollers kept in touch with a trusted agent who takes their physical space on the casino table or via a live video feed of the game proceedings.