The phenomenal growth of online gambling in the Asia Pacific has been drawing much attention and the Philippines is very much at the center of it all.
Where licensing and regulations are important factors that Asian gamblers look for in online gambling sites, the Philippines established itself as the only government in Asia that can vouch for legal operators and apply gaming oversight as a service.
Through its special economic zones and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), providers of technologies, igaming content, betting products and other related services needed by remote gaming operators, are granted licenses as outsourced service providers; albeit subject to regulatory requirements and conditions.
Collectively, these entities are registered in the country as Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO), and they contribute as much as ₱6 billion annually to the country’s coffers. In light of their business classification as providers of outsourced services, POGO entities can offer their online casino games and betting products only to countries outside of the Philippines.
What Online Gambling Experts Say about POGOs
One of the prominent observers to the expansion of online gambling business in Asia, is Brendan Bussmann, Partner and Director of Government Affairs of Global Market Advisors, a Las Vegas-based consulting firm. According to Mr. Bussmann, the games offered by the online gambling platforms are influenced by the preferences of players in Asian countries from where the demand for remote gaming comes. The most popular ot which are baccarat, blackjack and sic bo (dice game), while wagers are relatively affordable, ranging from as low as $5 to $100.
Another observer, Ben Lee, founder of IGamiX consultancy, said that the licensed offshore gaming operators or POGO companies have the support of various service providers, which include IT infrastructure development and maintenance, customer and payment processing services, and video gaming feeds. Mr. Lee, describes the support system as one that allows officially licensed POGO firms to use software that receives igaming content and other marketing features, while allowing them to add their brand and logo as igaming operators.
Mr. Lee, whose consultancy firm is based in Macau with focus on Asian gaming industries, said that online gambling in the Philippines actually started in 2000, via businesses licensed by the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA). He added that It was only in 2016, when President Rodrigo Duterte came into office that the licensing and regulatory aspects were transferred to PAGCOR.
The shift marked the aggressive development of offshore online gambling business in the country, which many, particularly Chinese businessmen, saw as a lucrative investment.
918Kiss : Example of an Online Gambling Business in Asia
Actually the system is technically known as content aggregation, in which a platform serves as a one-stop-shop for all online gambling components and essentials. In addition, features include measure that would flag signs of gambling addiction in customers. The latter is a regulatory requirement aimed at ensuring a site will sustain and maintain responsible gaming. .
A good example of this is the 918kiss mobile gambling platform, which originally operated as a sports betting site known as SCR888. In 2016, SCR888 underwent transformation by becoming a mobile gambling platform and by adding improvements such as the addition of online casino games and the required responsible gambling monitoring features.
SCR888’s transformation included rebranding via the trade name 918kiss and the addition of several online casino games deployed by major games developers like Playtech, WM, Real Time Gaming, Spade Gaming, Ezugi and a host of other Asian gaming content producers.
As a mobile gaming platform, 918kiss offers downloadable applications to users of smartphones powered by iOS or Android operating system, which allows access to more than 30 different brands of online casino games in the likes of 918kiss plus, 918kaya, Playboy 2, Live 22, Joker888, Suncity, Newtown, XE88, Pussy888 and LPE88