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Illegal online gambling: A growing threat to Philippine casinos and revenues



By Ian C. Sayson

The Philippines should take a closer look at online gambling entities catering to locals, as many of these have mushroomed in the past year and could potentially be illegal, according to an investor in one of the nation’s four operating integrated casino resorts.

Legal casino operators are suffering losses due to these rogue online platforms, which are attracting bets that would have otherwise gone to licensed operators.

“We have flagged this,” but the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. hasn’t taken action,” a gaming executive told “These operators are taking away revenue from the industry.”

Since President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. assumed office, many mobile phone subscribers have been bombarded with messages offering online gambling from Pagcor-licensed operators to take bets from the Philippines. Many, if not all, of these messages offer bonuses and promotions that would double subscribers’ money for opening an account.

“While Pagcor has licensed online operators to accept bets from Philippine residents, a number of online platforms aren’t accredited by the gaming regulator,” the Babbler said.

A check by on Pagcor’s website shows that the gaming regulator has accredited 39 gaming service providers, nine of which have yet to start operations. Pagcor also lists 10 authorized online and remote gaming platforms, including integrated casino resorts such as Solaire, Okada Manila, and Newport World Resorts.

Duterte opened the Philippines as a hub for offshore gaming operators to capitalize on the boom in online gambling in China. However, he didn’t allow them to take bets from the Philippines to appease critics who were

concerned that it would promote local gambling.

When China intensified its crackdown on online gambling, several offshore online gaming operators folded, and their staff left, according to the Babbler. Those who remained in the Philippines targeted the local market.

Pagcor’s website lists 49 internet gaming operators with regular and provisional permits. It separately lists 21 gaming content and support providers for offshore gaming operators.

The offshore gaming operators that Duterte allowed to come in are the root of this problem,” the Babbler said. “With China’s crackdown, those that stayed have turned toward the local market.”

Unless Pagcor acts against illegal operators, the country’s gross gaming revenue will suffer. “The numbers are already showing it,” the executive warned.

Philippine gross gaming revenue jumped 33 percent to a record P285.27 billion, according to Pagcor data. Over a third of that P71.38 billion increase came from electronic games.

Electronic games, which include sports betting, raked in a record P33.17 billion in gaming revenue, four times more than the P8.1 billion posted in 2022. Gross gaming revenue of integrated casino resorts, in contrast, grew 19 percent to P173.26 billion.

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