Digong does not scare gambling operators

SOME gambling operators are determined to continue with their operations and are prepared to defy President Rodrigo Duterte’s orders to revoke their licenses especially those that are on online gaming systems.

Leisure & Resorts of World Corp. (LRWC) Chairman and President Reynaldo P. Bantug said they will continue expanding their gaming business despite Duterte’s stand.

To recall, Duterte has directed Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Andrea D. Domingo to revoke the licenses of online gambling operators.

Bantug argued that their company was not affected by the directive since it is not considered an online gaming.

“We’re happy to say that [the] company is not affected by the statement... First, our business model is not really online because, as you know, we are a bingo parlor and we don’t use the Internet for that except for a small portion of our business,” Bantug said.

LRWC offers electronic games launched by PhilWeb Corp. under a license from PAGCOR although even this operation cannot be considered as online gambling, its Investor Relations Head Alfredo B. Reyes noted.

“There is really no online gaming in the Philippines because even the Philweb, you have to come in the site, sit down in the terminal... you cannot access it from the house,” Reyes said.

“The misconceptions about the gaming industry are already being clarified with Mr. Duterte through PAGCOR”, Bantug noted.

“We follow government regulations, which are actually very strict. You have to be a certain distance from churches, certain distance from schools. You cannot allow anybody who is minor, below 21, to come in. All of your games being played have to have PAGCOR approval. So, all of these [are] being monitored very, very strictly.”

Asked whether Duterte’s hard line stance against online gambling has impacted operations Bantug said it did not really affect them because even the e-Games, it’s business as usual.
“There is really no change in how we are operating the games” he pointed out.

Accordingly, LRWC will continue implementing its expansion plan for the year. The listed company targets to open 30 more boutique bingo sites, in addition to the 137 it currently operates across the Philippines.

The company has reached various stages of negotiations with property owners in the provinces, particularly in Luzon and the Visayas, for the planned expansion, Reyes said.

Aside from operating bingo parlors, LRWC holds a 69.68% interest in First Cagayan Leisure & Resort Corp. (FLRC), which the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) has allowed to develop, operate and conduct Internet and gaming enterprises and facilities in the Cagayan Economic Zone Free Port.

“CEZA has online jurisdiction, which is different from the local market that PAGCOR is the one overseeing, so apparently the president’s focus was on the local market,” Bantug added.

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Friday, 24 January 2020
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