In recent online casino news, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte changed his stance on online gambling.
On Tuesday, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR), the Government’s gambling operator-regulator, announced that it will start licensing online gambling companies that primarily target non-locals. PAGCOR CEO Andrea Domingo admitted that they don't know the exact number of interested candidates, if any at all.
PAGCOR aims to gain back at least some of the lost revenues that occurred due to Duterte's fight against Philweb, the Philippine online casino giant. Until recently, the company had several gambling boutiques scattered throughout the country. Last year alone, their operations brought in $12.2 million in taxes.
In June, Duterte stepped up his fight against all forms of organized crime and drug distribution. His mission was to wipe it out from the Philippines for good. He even offered his full support to the so-called “vigilante death squads” that are tasked to perform extra-judicial killings of criminals and even habitual drug users.
At the same time, Duterte focused his efforts on Philweb and Robert Ongpin, its billionaire chairman, as well as the online gambling industry in general. Duterte believed that online gambling was causing harm to the country as a whole because too many people opted to gamble instead of trying to earn an honest living.
Because Philweb was unable to renew its PAGCOR license, the company was on the verge of having to retreat. Ongpin stepped down from his position as the company’s president, and in a last-ditch effort, he even offered to transfer funds to PAGCOR so that the company's employees could be saved. PAGCOR declined the offer.
On Wednesday, however, Duterte experienced a sudden change of heart. He said that people can gamble their lives away for all he cared, and he is now tolerating online gambling again as long as the operators pay their taxes accordingly.
It is still unclear whether this means that Philweb will be able to continue offering its services or not.