By Chino S. Leyco
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) expects the Resorts World Manila (RWM) attack will not have a substantial impact on the country’s growing gambling business.
Pagcor Chairperson Andrea D. Domingo said the local gaming industry’s total revenues this year may still grow to P160 billion, noting they have yet seen any impact of the recent casino attack on casino operators.
“We’re not affected except that some players moved from one casino to another,” Domingo told reporters.
Pagcor is projecting that the industry’s gaming revenues will grow by 14 percent this year from P149.12 billion a year before.
Last Friday, a lone gunman, identified by the Police as Jessie Javier Carlos, entered the Resorts World Manila hotel-casino in Pasay City, and set fires that asphyxiated 37 guests, before he killed himself.
Domingo said Pagcor is conducting a separate investigation into the casino attack and has already asked the Resorts World Manila management to submit all its CCTV footages.
Once the investigation is completed, Domingo warned that Pagcor may recommend possible sanctions against the operator of RWN casino.
When asked if RWM could face possible closure following the incident, the Pagcor chief said they will look into the case to determine whether there is any negligence on the part of the gaming operator.
“Resorts World Manila has sizeable investments here, it’s difficult to order a closure just because of this single incident. There are many things that we have to consider,” Domingo said.
The local gaming sector is expected to contribute around P58 billion to P60 billion to government coffers this year, the Pagcor chief said.
In a related development, Domingo announced yesterday that Pagcor will limit its accredited Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) at 50.
Jose S. Tria Jr., special assistant to Pagcor’s chairman and chief executive explained that Pagcor wants to implement a moratorium on online casinos to avoid over saturation in the market.
Tria disclosed Pagcor has already granted a total of 42 POGO licenses since September, while 12 applications are still pending subject to stringent scrutiny by the gaming regulator.
The government, through Pagcor, is collecting at least $150,000 monthly from the gross gaming revenues of each e-casino operator and charges $200,000 annually in license fees.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), on the other hand, imposes a five percent levy on Pagcor’s income from online gaming.
To ensure all licensed operators are heeding to Pagcor regulations, Tria said they will create a task force to monitor the gaming activities of the service providers.
Online gambling is a legitimate business with a global market value of $35.97 billion in 2014 and is estimated to grow to $66.59 billion by 2020 amid the rapidly rising popularity of mobile devices.
More than 80 nations, including the Philippines, have legalized online gambling and Europe has the largest market in the world.
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