Asia’s Newest Gaming Jurisdiction

It is my honor and distinct pleasure to be here today to share with an audience of repute in the international gaming industry significant developments which have positively affected the Asian market for internet gaming. I am pleased to announce that a new gaming jurisdiction has opened in the Philippines to serve the Asia Pacific region – this Philippine jurisdiction is the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport – Northern Philippines’ gateway to Asia and the Pacific.

The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority is a government owned and controlled corporation of the Republic of the Philippines created by virtue of Republic Act 7922 to manage and operate the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport’s 54,118.95 hectare area into a self sustaining industrial, commercial, financial, investment, tourism and recreational center and Freeport. The Freeport is counted as one of the flagship projects of the Philippine government and in envisioned to a major transshipment point for trade in the Asia-Pacific rim, operating as a separate customs territory similar to HongKong, Singapore, Labuan in Malaysia and Hamburg in Germany.

It is strategically located between the Pacific Ocean and South China Sea, and cited by the Asian Business Magazine as the closest Philippine port to lucrative overseas markets such as Taiwan, HongKong, Japan, Korea and the People’s Republic of China. Its strategic location is highlighted by the fact that it is situated at the crossroads of international shipping routes between the West Coast of North America, the Far East and Southeast Asia.

CEZA aims to develop the Zone based on a tri-nodal development nucleus: agro-industrial development, the creation of a shipping and transshipment industry, and the development of tourism, eco-tourism and leisure facilities. We are well aware of the fact that tourism, leisure and recreational component plays a very vital role in attracting investors and tourists alike, hence CEZA endeavors to utilize a unique feature in its charter which empowers it to issue licenses and permits to conduct gaming and casino operations from and within the Zone, with the ancillary power to regulate the same.

Message From CEZA CEO Jose Mari PonceAs such, CEZA has created an avenue for internet gaming in the Philippines that is independent from any other government agency or authority including the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). And to further this vision, CEZA has appointed the First Cagayan Leisure and Resort Corporation as its Master Licensor of internet gaming and has authorized the same to undertake and pursue the development and conduct of amusement and gaming facilities in the Freeport.

Foremost in the objectives of CEZA and FCLRC is to establish an online gaming model that contains a perfect balance of regulations and control in a well regulated jurisdiction. And while most jurisdictions have yet to find the formula to attract the most number of reputable gaming operators, FCLRC has already adequately put together an attractive package that possesses two clear advantages.

First, the Cagayan Freeport positions itself internationally as the most attractive jurisdiction for suppliers by way of a better regulation and a competitive tax rate equivalent to 2% on the gross win for virtual casino operators and a US$75,000 all-inclusive fee for Sports Book operators.

Second, it ensures that its regulations offer levels of player protection which are widely acceptable to foreign governments, and which in due course are expected to be incorporated in a form of international agreement.

To date, FCLRC has put up world class telecommunications facilities providing quality broadband and high-speed data services of up to DS-3 (45 megabites per second) capacities. In fact, this jurisdiction has received a very high rating from independent telecom evaluators. I am inspired as I tell you that in addition to the number of operational licensees, FCLRC shall have licensed a total of 15 operators before this year ends.

I would like to present you now with some food for thought – the Philippines truly has much to offer to the telecommunications and the gaming industries. Our multi-lingual workforce has earned the Philippines the label of “call center capital of the world”, with a host of multi-lingual telecoms companies having located their businesses in the Philippines. And due to the entry of these investors, bandwith prices have been decreasing significantly. This clearly bares testament to the big potential of our business environment.

Asia , undoubtedly, is a fast growing market for i-gaming, and yet most of the countries in this region remain virtually untapped, so far, by I-gaming operators. CEZA and FCLRC are committed to a fair, safe and reliable jurisdiction operating under a competitive licensing regime, cost-effective regulatory framework and disciplined operator and player protection policies. We welcome legitimate operators seeking to establish and those seeking to locate in Asia.

And so in closing, allow me to end with this premise: that there is no better time to take hold of this golden opportunity than today – now is the perfect time to test Asia’s internet gaming potential through the Philippines’ newest gaming jurisdiction: the Cagayan Special Economic and Freeport Zone.