The Philippines, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines, is a Southeast Asian country with a population of about 109 million. The country has a long history of gambling, with such activities being a common pastime for Filipinos since the 16th century. Nowadays, there are numerous legal and illegal gambling activities taking place all over the country.
The Government relies on the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) for the regulation of the gambling industry on the archipelago. The PAGCOR is also the body that is responsible for issuing gaming licenses to casino operators who wish to operate on the Filipino market.
In addition to its enticing nature and culture, the Philippines also attracts numerous tourists thanks to its glamorous gambling industry. Resorts with integrated casino facilities are extremely popular, with Metro Manila alone hosting over twenty casinos.
While the Philippines may seem like a great destination for casino lovers, this is not the case for locals. Even though online gambling is a well-regulated sector, with PAGCOR authorized to issue licenses to online casino operators, they are not permitted to accept players who are located in the Philippines. That said, Filipinos can find a number of offshore gaming websites where they can register and bet on various casino games.
To fully understand where the Philippines is standing when it comes to online and offline gaming, you might want to get familiar with the laws of the country as well as the regulatory institutions that take care of overseeing the gambling sector on the archipelago.
The gambling sector in the Philippines is governed by two jurisdictions – the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and the Cagayan Special Economic Zone. The two institutions are responsible for the regulation and licensing of the land-based casinos located throughout the Philippines.
In addition to regulating brick-and-mortar casinos, licensing and overseeing the operations of online gaming operators also falls under the remit of PAGCOR. There are several pieces of legislation that determine the legal status of gambling in the Philippines and make sure to properly regulate the industry.
Online Gambling in the Philippines
When it comes to online gambling, one should keep in mind that the law differentiates between players based within and outside the borders of the Philippines. While PAGCOR is the regulatory body that issues licenses to casino companies that wish to operate in the Philippines, these operators are allowed to only accept players who are based outside the archipelago.
Under Republic Act 10927, players who are based on the territory of the Philippines are not allowed to register or play for real money on websites that have been licensed by PAGCOR. Even while being overseas, Filipinos will not be able to Even though the laws are clear about restricting Filipino residents from placing wagers on casinos that operate in the Philippines, this does not mean they do not have other options for playing online.
As the law does not specify that Filipino residents are not allowed to make bets at offshore casino sites, locals can legally play on foreign websites that have been licensed by other jurisdictions.
POGO Gaming License
1Applying for POGO License
As mentioned before, operators who wish to obtain permission from the authorities in the Philippines must apply for a license from PAGCOR. Entities that have obtained this type of license are referred to as Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO).
Both local and foreign operators can apply for a POGO license and offer online games of chance to virtual players who reside outside the Philippines. Before they can obtain a license from PAGCOR, operators need to meet several requirements.
To qualify for a POGO license, operators must meet the requirement of minimum office space of at least 10,000 square meters. There are three types of office space requirements for POGOs, each depending on the online gaming services provided by the operator. The first category of license holders applies to those offering live streaming casino entertainment. Such companies hosting live casino games with real dealers must meet the requirements for minimum office space.
The other two categories are derivatives of the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, providing back-office services.
Both foreign and local operators that are applying for a POGO license or have already obtained an operational license are required to register with the Revenue District Office (RDO). This is done so operators must have appointed jurisdiction that will oversee the business that is currently or will be soon conducted.
The process of conducting the business by the respective operator is considered to have begun with the first sale transaction that has been processed. The start of the business may also be considered within the 30 days after the Mayor’s Permit or Professional Tax Receipt (PTR) or the Certificate of Registration was issued to the operator.
With the proviso that a POGO relocates its registered address to another location, the operator is required to apply for a BIR registration update or request its Local Gaming Agent to file for the update to complete the transfer of the registered address.
Applicable POGO License Fees
If you are interested in the cost of applying for a license, you can see updated information on all applicable fees on the official websites of PAGCOR. The fees that operators are required to pay will depend on the type of license they apply for as well as on the fact if the operator is simply renewing their license or is applying for a new one.
If an operator is applying for a remote gaming license, the application and processing fee may amount to $150,000 if the license is for online casino services or $120,000 for a sports betting/sports betting on regulated wagering events license.
As for the license fee itself, online casino providers will be required to pay $200,000, while sports betting/sports betting on regulated wagering events impose a fee of $150,000. License holders are also expected to pay a one-time performance/security bond fee of $300,000. Those who would like to renew their licenses will need to pay $150,000 for an online casino license and $120,000 for a license for sports betting/sports betting on regulated wagering events.
There are a few other fees that applicants may need to pay, depending on the types of products they would like to apply for. For instance, operators who wish to offer live streaming casino services will be required to pay an application and processing fee of $120,000. Other types of fees that applicants will be required to pay can be seen on the official website of the licensing authority.
With a long history of gambling, the Philippines is a country where this industry is well-developed and regulated so it can help the growth of the local economy. The gaming sector on the archipelago is regulated by two main authorities – PAGCOR and the Cagayan Special Economic Zone. While both of these regulators can issue operational licenses for land-based gambling, only PAGCOR is authorized to issue licenses for online gambling operations.
The legal gambling age in the Philippines is 21 but Filipinos must keep in mind that they are not allowed to play at online casinos that have been licensed by the local regulator. Instead, players based in the Philippines can opt for making bets at offshore online casinos licensed by other jurisdictions.
The main reason why the gambling industry in the Philippines has become a regulated market was to help the development of the country’s economy. The casino industry in the Philippines is definitely one of the things that attract numerous tourists, bringing the country quite the revenue thanks to casino wagers.
The current laws are clear about online casinos licensed by the Filipino authorities being able to accept only players outside the Philippines. That said, as there is no law forbidding Filipinos to play online, there are plenty of offshore options that players from the Philippines will most definitely appreciate.