Many jurisdictions throughout the world have passed, or are debated passing, regulations for online gambling. Most of them are just lenient enough in the fees/taxes to attract interest from many operators. But The Philippines new structure for online casino and sports betting licenses is so ridiculous, they’ll be lucky to draw a single applicant.
Philippines’ new President Rodrigo Duterte has been very – for lack of a better term – wishy-washy on the subject of licensing online sportsbooks and casinos. Back and forth he’s gone on the gambling issue, one minute vowing to eliminate all internet gambling in the country; the other minute requesting operators submit license applications.
Last month, instead of abolishing the activity as he’d vowed to do, he flipped the coin and embraced it as the heavy tax revenue generator that it is. But now that the regulations have been laid out, and the application process scheduled to begin, it appears President Duterte may have (intentionally?) overestimated the eagerness, and financial willingness, of online casino and sportsbook operations around the globe
No Access to Philippines or Restricted Areas
Operators who apply for a license can be located in or outside the Philippines. And for those located in the country, they must adhere to additional restrictions and oversight from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR).
However, in order to qualify for and maintain an online gambling license in the country, operators will not be permitted to accept Filipino players. They are restricted also from accessing players in any jurisdiction where online gambling is illegal.
That little stipulation would circumscribe operators from accepting just about anyone in Asia, Australia, many parts of Europe, the US… you get the idea.
Fees, Fees and More Fees
Okay, so let’s say an operator doesn’t mind that first restrictive distinction in the country’s online gambling regulatory scheme. Let’s talk fees.
To apply for a license, online casino operators must pay an application fee of $50,000, while online sportsbooks have to pay $40,000. If the license is granted, casinos then pay a license fee of $200,000, with sports betting operators pitching in $150,000.
That’s not so bad, right? But wait, those are just the initial fees. From there, a host of ongoing fees are distinguished for each type of online sportsbook and casino operation. These include:
Live Dealer Casinos
$100k studio permit fee per venue
||$10k per month, per table ($2k/month if studio is controlled by operator)
||$40k per month, flat fee
||$100 per month, per player
All these fees and player restrictions should be enough to give operators pause, and we haven’t even talked abut the taxes yet. The government didn’t get that far yet, either. Even they don’t know what rate they will be taxing online casino and sports betting operators at, but based on the exorbitant costs listed above, you can rest assured they won’t be lenient.
Duterte Knows Exactly What He’s Doing
President Duterte detests gambling. He’s made that abundantly clear already. In previous statements, he’s blamed online gambling for “social ills and decay”, denouncing operators for catering to “the more economically vulnerable portion of our population”.
But in today’s modern era, that viewpoint isn’t shared by the majority of his people. So in order to appease them, he’s elected to cater to operators by offering licenses – licenses that are so outrageously restrictive and expensive that no one in their right mind would apply for one. Thus Duterte still gets his way, without any visible blood on his hands.
Well played Mr. President… well played.