The Philippines will eventually need to regulate online gaming for locals to control rampant illegal gambling and generate revenue, the head of a government committee that oversees the gambling industry said.
The Hon. Gus S. Tambunting, representative for the 2nd District of Paranaque City and chair of the Committee on Games and Amusement acknowledged that many locals are gambling online despite a ban, which President Rodrigo Duterte has tried to strictly enforce.
“I know that it is still happening,” he said on the sidelines of the ASEAN Gaming Summit in Manila. “Someone here can access it here and pick it up from anywhere.”
He acknowledged given the strength of opposition from Duterte and the Catholic Church that the prospect of regulation isn’t imminent. However, he says it is something that is needed.
“Right now opening it up would not be a good idea,” he said. “I think it would also be very unpopular for the Church.”
“I think we are just delaying the prospect, but eventually we will have to go that way,” he said, referring to regulation. “In about five years after the current administration.”
The Philippines is the only jurisdiction in Asia to allow online gambling, but only for foreign facing companies.
Since taking office, Duterte has sought to crackdown hard on illegal gambling, or any online operators targeting Filipinos. As part of the shakeout, the Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corp. began issuing licenses to online companies, known as Philippine Offshore Gambling Operator licenses, or POGOs.
PAGCOR Chair Andrea Domingo said the regulator had pulled in total income of P6.72 billion ($128.5 million) in 2018 from its offshore online gaming licensees, topping its target.
Speaking at ICE Totally Gaming in February, Domingo said PAGCOR has set a target of P5.5 billion for the year for income from Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators. The actual result exceeded its expectations by 21.8 percent.