Only 26 POGOs currently operate in the Philippines

The industry has been heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The industry has been heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The number of POGO licence holders has fallen from 63 prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Philippines.- Victor Padilla, senior manager of PAGCOR’s policy and offshore gaming licensing division, has revealed that there are currently only 26 Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs). That compares to 63 before the Covid-19 pandemic

Speaking at the ASEAN Gaming Summit in Manila, Padilla said the industry had been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the lack of tourists and the closure of borders. He said the sector had also shrunk due to rising costs and more government regulation.

Analysts have attributed the exodus of POGOs to the 5 per cent franchise tax on turnover that the government introduced in a bid to make up budget shortfalls caused by the pandemic. Andrea Domingo, PAGCOR chairman, has said that many POGOs turned to other jurisdictions, such as Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.

The first 35 POGO licences were issued in 2016. The number peaked at 63 licensees in 2019, when the industry generated PHP8bn.

According to Asian Gaming Brief, Padilla added that PAGCOR is working with stakeholders and other government agencies to ensure dynamic and stable regulation and to remain a leader in online gambling in the region. He also confirmed that online cockfighting remains suspended in the Philippines.

Philippines GGR may not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2026

Daniel Cecilio, licensing and regulatory group chief of PAGCOR, has told Reuters he believes gaming revenue in the Philippines will recover to pre-pandemic levels, or surpass them, by 2026 as player confidence slowly returns.

Cecilio predicts that annual GGR could reach PHP256bn or more by 2026, with land-based casinos contributing PHP146bn. He said the industry’s recovery will be driven by pent-up demand and a return to confidence among domestic and foreign players.

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