The Philippines is expected to bring in billions and billions of dollars in gaming revenue, and that is not including those that operate illegal gambling platforms, as per the latest news from GGRAsia.
According to the Asian casino newsletter, the country is predicted to generate a gross gaming revenue (GGR) of almost $5.2 billion (P294.67 billion) by the end of 2023. If things go well, it could even reach $5.9 billion (P334.36 billion), but that is a big IF.
Based on the latest gambling news in the Philippines, illegal gambling remains rampant. The newest apprehension by authorities was 11 Chinese nationals and three Filipinos for operating an unauthorized gambling den inside a salon in Parañaque City.
Police who raided the establishment discovered the salon was filled with fish table games. These games use tokens to shoot fish to accumulate points and then convert them for money. Tokens were priced at P1,000 per piece, and according to Police Lieutenant Colonel Jolet Guevara, “It’s clear that this is illegal gambling.”
Meanwhile, the salon owner is still on the loose, with multiple reports claiming that the operator has other illegal gambling operations in the area.
PAGCOR gets Tangled in a Mess
One of two overseers of the gambling industry has been linked to a controversy that could destroy its integrity.
Ten (10) former and current officials of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) are facing charges of abuse of authority after a bond worth $1.32 million (P75 million) went missing.
These were: former PAGCOR board members Gabriel Claudio, deceased Carmen Pedrosa and Reynaldo Concordia, James Patrick Bondoc, former PAGCOR head Andrea Domingo, current boss Alejandro Tengco, and Tengco’s chief of staff, Dianne Erica Jogno.
Kamura Highlands and Gaming and Holdings Inc. handed the bond to the regulator for a permit to operate online cockfighting or e-sabong. However, this was before the ban on the virtual sabong was imposed.
The Senate suspended all e-sabong operations in the country last year, affecting most operators, most especially Atong Ang, the owner of the largest online sabong platform in the Philippines.
When the government decided on the restriction and the gambling news reached Kamura Highlands, its chairman, Joaquin Sy, immediately contacted PAGCOR for their money.
Now, the Controversy Begins
Sy contacted the former officials of PAGCOR but said he did not receive any response. It turns out the agency does not have the money because they gave it to someone else.
Jewel Castro was the recipient, and the transferee was then-PAGCOR chair Andrea Domingo. Castro has ties with Kamura; however, the individual was discovered to have no affiliation whatsoever with the company, nor is he a primary shareholder.
The current chair, Tengco, was included in the complaint, along with other charges. Sy believes that PAGCOR’s head and his chief of staff obstructed justice by covering up the issue. Furthermore, he also felt that they did not respond swiftly to his initial request for clarification about what happened to the bond.
Online Gambling Under Jeopardy
Online gambling is at risk based on the current news, particularly with the alleged corruption of PAGCOR. News articles about gambling have already shown calls for banning online casinos.
With the integrity of PAGCOR broken, paired with the prevalent criminal activities associated with the online gambling industry, chances are, it will be shut down for good. When this happens, it will not only impact the revenue of the country, but Filipinos will lose another form of entertainment.