Gaming Back Online in the Philippines

31 March 2004

Government-owned and operated Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) has enlisted the help of information technology firm PhilWeb Corp to provide online casinos and sportsbooks in the Philippines. The venture will contribute up to fifty percent of its income back to the government.

Pagcor, the government agency that regulates all gambling throughout the Philippines, signed a memorandum of agreement with Philweb in November 2002, contracting the company as a technology provider and marketing consultant for Internet sports betting. The memorandum and subsequent agreements between Pagcor and Philweb gave Philweb the rights to introduce new sports betting events and formats, to supply new software and hardware technology, to market and promote sports betting, to appoint Internet sports betting operators, and to distribute prepaid betting cards.

The first of Pagcor's Internet casinos and sports betting sites went online this week. One site,, offers betting based on the results of games played in the U.S.'s National Basketball Association. Another site, VIP Sports Betting ( is a high-end wagering service that offers Las Vegas-style betting formats with a minimum bet of 10,000 pesos (US$178) on North American baseball, football, basketball, and women's basketball.

Pagcor e-Casino (, which will feature a variety of table, slot, and video poker games, is slated for launch in the near future. Another upcoming release is Telesabong, which will offer wagers on cockfighting, the national sport of the Philippines.

In January of this year the Supreme Court of the Philippines issued a 10-page decision that rendered the Internet gambling operator's license of Sports and Games Entertainment Corp (SAGE) null and void. The court ruled that Pagcor did not have the authority to permit SAGE to operate Internet gaming. According to the court, "While Pagcor is allowed under its charter to enter into operator's and/or management contracts, it is not allowed under the same charter to relinquish or share its franchise, much less grant a veritable franchise to another entity such as SAGE."

An important difference between Pagcor's relationship with SAGE and its relationship with Philweb is that SAGE served as an operator of games, whereas Philweb simply supplies the information and technology. Since Pagcor is the operator of the new wave of sites launching this week, it does not need to fear a similar Supreme Court judgment.

Meanwhile, SAGE continues to battle the court's decision. In February the company filed a 28-page motion for reconsideration, arguing that the agreement between SAGE and Pagcor "is in accord with the conferred powers to Pagcor by virtue of Presidential Decree 1869." By the time it was pulled offline, SAGE had already spent US$8.9 million on equipment and employed 350 workers.