Philippines Economic Zone To Shun Online Gambling-Related Businesses?

PEZA Director General says no to online gambling or related activities within accredited buildings

A new level of resistance to online gambling businesses in the Philippines appeared to develop this week, perhaps as a consequence of the often hostile comments of state president Rodrigo Duterte; the director general of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), Charito Plaza told local reporters that she wants no online gambling operations inside the Authority’s accredited buildings across the nation.

Plaza claimed to the Manila Bulletin that the board of directors at PEZA supports her intention not to allow any online gambling operations – even technical support – in PEZA-accredited buildings within and outside Metro Manila, as this activity is not included in the agency’s mandate.

Plaza went so far as to assert that even online gambling operators licensed by the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) would be turned away from PEZA-accredited IT parks and buildings.

The director general revealed that there are more than 100 online gambling “activities” in Metro Manila… mostly operating in PEZA-accredited buildings.

The majority of these operators are “locators” associated with the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) and Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport (APECO), who are operating in Metro Manila because facilities in CEZA and APECO are incomplete.

“Since the PEZA board will not allow online gaming, they should stop allowing the lessee to occupy the accredited buildings,” Plaza said, threatening to remove the accreditation of PEZA-located buildings that continue to host online gambling related activities once the landlords have been officially warned, a process that will commence soon.

Plaza said that she was determined that PEZA should not be tainted with “scandals and anomalies” associated with online gambling, referencing recent police and immigration actions in Clark Field and Bataan targeting illegal online gambling and immigration activity (see previous InfoPowa reports).

The Manila Bulletin notes that the latest report from Leechiu Property Consultants show that 39 percent or about 481,412 square meters of office space in Metro Manila are PEZA-accredited buildings.

The same report noted that online gaming industry accounts for the second highest demand for office spaces this year, subordinate only to the business process outsourcing sector which shares 38 percent of the total demand.