The Asia Gaming Brief, an online gambling news site for the South East Asia region, is hosting a December 9 online forum, and PAGCOR CEO Andrea Domingo will be in attendance.
The name of the seminar?
“Life After POGOs”
Then again, maybe not.
It’s no secret that POGOs – or Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators – have fallen out of favor in the islands.
In operation since 2016, these venues exclusively serve only international clientele – mostly Chinese mainlanders – with online gambling amusements.
POGOs are strictly forbidden to offer their services to Filipino residents themselves, which has always limited their impact and taxability, making them less than ideally profitable for the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
But there are other problems with the model, too.
With POGOs leading to an increase in illegal Chinese immigration into the Philippines – as well as causing a measurable increase in organized crime inside the nation – these venues were already on the outs in the hearts and minds of many local lawmakers.
Then, as immigration crackdowns increased and POGO operational shortfalls were exacerbated by the country’s wide-reaching coronavirus lockdowns, the POGO industry in the Philippines – once comprised of over 60 licensed operators – has dwindled to just 36 registered companies, most of whom are currently offline.
POGOs appear for all the world to be on the way out.
Luckily, the Philippines doesn’t need POGOs to make money with its online gambling sector.
The infrastructure is clearly there, and there is also plenty of local demand.
Instead of limiting these games to offshore players and dealing with the sociopolitical nightmare that POGOs have come to represent, the nation is in a great position to pivot to its own people.
With PAGCOR recently allowing land-based casinos to apply for iGaming licenses to serve native Filipinos in an effort recoup some of the revenue lost during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, the door has finally been opened to domestic online casino gambling and sports betting.
To that end, while the City of Dreams Manila has been granted an online operator license, it is still undergoing a technical review of its software before launching its service.
In the meantime, PAGCOR has issued one of its so-called eGames licenses (separate and distinct from POGO licenses) to DFNN Inc.
DFNN’s Inter-Active Entertainment Solutions, a subsidiary of the popular electronic gaming brand, has been in business since 1999, and the company’s electronic casino games are a mainstay in popular brick-and-mortar Philippine casinos.
With online gambling, DFNN can immediately bring that wealth of expertise to the population at large.
Calvin Lim, CEO of DFNN, has announced that the brand-new InPlay.ph website will soon be online, offering select “VIP” members the chance to play mobile casino games domestically.
There is some question as to whether or not online gambling will be expanded to “non-VIP” residents in the future, as the Philippines historically allows only those citizens who make a certain annual income to legally gamble at retail casinos.
In the short term at the very least, online access will be similarly limited.
Of course, regardless of your status in the islands, if you live in the Philippines and wish to play online for real money, there are several legal offshore gambling options available to you despite these domestic restrictions.
The best Philippine online casinos – like BetOnline and Intertops – all offer the full gamut of legal online sports betting, casino action, and online poker to all Filipinos aged 18 and up.
There is no eGames license requirement, either, as these sites are all located outside of Philippine legal jurisdiction.
While the country is continuing to make strides to bring its gambling market into the 21st century, it will likely take time for this new model to grow its footprint, and the industry will only thrive once these real-money gambling amusements are available to all.
Until then (and perhaps even long after such a time), you can enjoy every casino game, betting line, and hand of poker you wish, 24/7, legally and safely online when playing with the top international operators.