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Pagcor takes legal action over £28m in unpaid offshore licence fees

| By Robert Fletcher
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) is taking legal action against 33 offshore gambling licensees over unpaid P2.02bn (£28.2m/€33.0m/$35.9m) in licence fees.
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The regulator has alleged that the operators, which were given licences during the previous administration, have not paid their licence fees for more than a year. This, Pagcor said, is in breach of Section 4.C of the Offshore Gaming Regulatory Manual.

Pagcor said that the operators in question have not responded to its requests to submit the required regulatory fees. It also acknowledges that five of the licensees have closed down.

Pagcor chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco said refusal to abide by Philippine laws and pay fees left the regulator with no choice but to pursue legal action.

“Because of this situation, we are duty-bound to take a legal course of action,” Tengco said. “We are now in the process of gathering pertinent information to file appropriate cases against them,” he said.

“Pagcor will continue to ensure that all our regulated gaming entities, including offshore gaming operators and service providers, will abide by our regulatory policies, including proper payment of fees and taxes,” he said.

Pagcor’s new regulatory framework

The news comes after Pagcor earlier this month announced a new regulatory framework for offshore gaming licensees. The framework came into effect in July and is part of inter-agency efforts to tackle illegal offshore activities in the country. 

The stand-out measure is that all licensees and service providers are declared probationary. They must re-apply for approval from Pagcor before a cut-off date of 17 September in order to continue operating in the country. 

Operators and providers that have been operating illegally will not be considered for a new licence.

Tackling illegal gambling in the Philippines

Pagcor has launched a series of initiatives in recent months to address illegal offshore gambling in the country.

The regulator has been working with other government and law enforcement agencies to set up offices inside an accredited hub. It also launched reforms to impose stricter sanctions on licensees that breach the rules.

Meanwhile, operators now face increased inspection of compliance, as well as the need to submit reports to enforcement agencies for further investigation. In addition, Pagcor pledged to issue heavy penalties to operators that do not comply with regulations.

Pagcor makes the move to online

Amid this action, Pagcor last month also set out plans to launch its own online casino. Due to launch in Q1 2024, CasinoFilipino.com will allow consumers to legally gamble online through Pagcor.

At the time, Pagcor said the online casino launch forms part of its wider modernisation plan. This also covers its established land-based activities across the country.

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