APG hails Philippine progress on regulating casino industry

In June, the FATF decided to keep the Philippines on it’s “grey list” of untrustworthy jurisdictions.
In June, the FATF decided to keep the Philippines on it’s “grey list” of untrustworthy jurisdictions.

The Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) said the Philippines has made improvements in enforcing its regulatory framework for land-based and online casinos.

The Philippines.- Efforts in the Philippines to improve control of the gaming industry and strengthen measures against money laundering and the financing of terrorism have been recognised by the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG). The financial watchdog noted improvements in regulatory frameworks for land-based and online casinos.

In its July report, the watchdog said the Philippines had addressed gaps in checks conducted on casinos supervised by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR).

It said: “PAGCOR, for casinos, and the Anti-Money Laundering Council, for all designated non-financial business and professions, have continued to develop their frameworks for risk-based anti-money laundering/combatting the financing of terrorism supervision.”

Before the update, the Philippines had been advised to reassessment some issues classified as partial compliance. One was that the qualification process associated with PAGCOR licensees covered only directors and not shareholders or beneficial owners.

However, the watchdog said since the mutual evaluation report, PAGCOR has issued and approved additional probity check guidelines effective since January 27. The updated list of individuals subject to fit and proper requirements and required to provide a personal disclosure statement to PAGCOR included management functions/officers, shareholders holding at least 20 per cent ownership or with significant controlling interest, and beneficial owners.

The APG said: “These provisions enable PAGCOR to prevent criminals or their associates from holding significant or controlling interest, beneficial ownership, a management function or from operating a casino.”

The commendation comes after the announcement in June that the Philippines would remain on the FATF’s “grey list” of untrustworthy jurisdictions. In June, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued a report that classed the Philippine casino industry as a “moderate” risk to the country’s international reputation in terms of anti-money laundering (AML) and combatting the financing of terrorism (CFT).

Prior to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Philippines had a significant and growing casino and online gaming industry. Speaking to Focus Gaming News about a possible competitor to Macau for its title as the ‘Las Vegas of Asia’, seasoned industry observers at Global Betting & Gaming Consultants (GBGC) highlighted the Philippines as “the most serious contender”.

“[The Philippines] has developed several integrated resorts to rival Macau.” the sources said. “It has also recently allowed licence holders to begin online gaming operations, which is an advantage over Macau’s concessions.”

Philippines GGR up 144% for Q2

Authorities in The Philippines have reported that gross gaming revenue in the second quarter of the year came in at PHP45.89bn (US$824.2m). That’s a rise of was up 40.1 per cent quarter-on-quarter and 144 pr cent year-on-year.

Manila’s Entertainment City casino resorts generated PHP37.01bn in GGR, accounting for 80.6 per cent of all GGR. The figure was up 37.6 per cent quarter-on-quarter and up 152.3 per cent when compared to last year.

Casinos in the Clark Freeport Zone generated PHP4.75bn GGR, up from PHP3.01bn in the first quarter. PAGCOR-operated casinos reported aggregate revenue (excluding in-house bingo- was PHP3.79bn, up 45.4 per cent quarter-on-quarter.

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