Get Ready for SAGE

12 July 2000
IGN reported last week that the Philippine government has given Sports and Games Entertainment Corp. (SAGE) the green light to operate an online casino legally in the Philippines. We've since caught up with SAGE and collected a few more details.

SAGE holds an exclusive license (valid to February 2005) issued through the government-owned and operated Pagcor, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation. It took the company nearly a year to obtain the permit. "We started early and we really had to convince the board of Pagcor that there would be security and integrity in the online version," company spokesman Patrick Deakin explained. "Thanks to the brilliant and honest leadership of chair Alice Reyes, Pagcor is well regarded as the finest name in gaming in Asia and they want to keep it that way. It wasn't easy to convince them that this would happen."

Both Reyes and then-Philippine president Fidel Ramos signed SAGE's gaming license. Under its terms, the company can offer any game of chance to foreign and domestic players through the use of the Internet.

The new casino, located at, will launch next month and will feature blackjack, craps, mini baccarat, roulette, Sic Bo, Premier slots, Atlantis slots, video poker and video keno in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Thai, Korean, Spanish and French. Players must be 21years old and legally able to gamble on the Internet. For now, U.S. players will be refused.

Deakin says the company opted for downloadable software because of bandwidth concerns with Java. Sage Casino CD-ROMs will be distributed at Pagcor's 11 casinos, through bill-bundling programs with Internet service providers and at Philippine malls. (One of the company's owners operates 11 mega malls--nine in the Philippines and two in China.) The software for was developed by Gold Play Gaming Systems.

Customers will be able to deposit money with Sage Casino using their credit cards, checks, wire transfers or by using prepaid cards. More innovative payment systems are in the works. "We are producing our own prepaid cards in five denominations, as well as a re-loadable 'custom credit' card which can be loaded with any denomination at any of our points of sale and redemption centers," Deakin said.

Refunds and new cards can be obtained from Bingo Bonanza centers operated by (LWRC) Leisure & Resorts World Corp. This isn't the first time the Sage has worked with LWRC. Earlier this year, SAGE and LWRC subsidiary AB Leisure Exponents Inc. agreed to jointly operate commercial bingo and bingo-related games over the Internet.

Deakin explained, "The plan is to come up with an Internet version of the very popular linked-bingo games being operated by Bingo Bonanza (AB Leisure.)" Sage would probably host a TV/Internet version that would allow players at home to participate with games playing in the physical bingo parlors.

Future plans are sure to keep Sage busy. Between launching the new e-casino next month and developing new ideas with AB Leisure, Deakin is bubbling over with enthusiasm. "It truly is exciting and the future plans are down right thrilling!" he said. With so much happening, who can blame him for his fervor?

Vicky Nolan joined the IGN staff in October 1999. She's best known for inventing fire, the wheel and swiss cheese. She can be reached at