PhilWeb shutting down today

By Iris Gonzales
PhilWeb shutting down today

PhilWeb Corp. will now have to close shop after gaming regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) refused to renew its license.

PhilWeb president Dennis Valdes met yesterday afternoon with Pagcor chairman Andrea Domingo to appeal for an extension on grounds that it was not an online gaming firm amid the Duterte administration’s crackdown on online gambling.

However, Pagcor still decided against renewing PhilWeb’s contract.

“We are now winding operations,” Valdes told The STAR.

PhilWeb’s operations of its main business, the e-Games network, will end at 11:59 p.m. today upon the expiration of its license.

PhilWeb is a listed gaming technology company majority owned by businessman and former trade minister Roberto Ongpin, whom President Duterte singled out last week in his pitch against oligarchs in the country.

Ongpin and his daughter Anna Bettina Ongpin resigned as PhilWeb’s chairman and vice-chairman, respectively soon after Duterte’s vow to destroy oligarchs.

The company is behind e-Games stations, which are Internet cafes exclusively dedicated to casino games. With technology provided by PhilWeb, patrons can choose from more than 300 casino games, including baccarat, blackjack, various slot machine games, video poker and sports betting.

There are currently 268 operating e-Games cafes across the country, a majority of which are owned and operated by independent entrepreneurs.

Valdes said without a license to operate, PhilWeb would have to shut down all operations, including 286 e-Games outlets operated by Pagcor licensees. 

The impending shutdown of the e-Games network will likely cause the sudden closure of the publicly listed company, Valdes said, and also result in enormous economic and social costs.

The e-Games network has at least 5,000 employees. In addition, small and medium enterprises that supply goods and services to each e-Games outlet would also suffer from the shutdown, Valdes said.

In 2015, the e-Games network contributed P2.1 billion to Pagcor and over P14 billion in the past 14 years.

Valdes on Tuesday said Duterte might have been misinformed on the business of PhilWeb.

“PhilWeb is merely a software provider to Pagcor for its network of e-Games outlets,” Valdes said. “We are not online gaming. Our software cannot be played from homes or offices.”