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Cagayan Economic Zone never had criminal issues with online gaming licenses – CEO

The CEO of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), Katrina Ponce Enrile, commented today that the area “never had any” problems or criminal issues connected to online gaming operators.

CEZA was the first economic zone in the Philippines to offer to host of financial technology companies, and the first authorized zone to explore online gaming in the Philippines, having been operating in the space for over two decades.

On the second day of the 6th ASEAN Gaming Summit, Enrile noted that since 2001 it has “been issuing interactive gaming licenses, not offshore gaming licenses” with no issues, highlighting that the criminality witnessed in the sector “has nothing to do” with the area.

During a keynote talk today, she defended less “meddling” from outside authorities in the economic zone, and even criticized a police raid inside the zone for an alleged human trafficking case, commenting that authorities didn’t communicate with the CEZA authority.

The CEO previously told AGBrief that the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR)’s attempt at regulating offshore gaming operators (POGOs) “has failed”. Today she underlined a separation of waters in how the two gaming operator/regulators went about to develop the sector.

“We are talking a lot and sharing ideas. Chairman Tengco is doing its best to bring in revenue, and that’s the same for us, we need to bring in revenue. He has his own idea of doing it, and so do I,” she pointed out.

“I will stay focused on my jurisdiction and everyone else will respect that and not meddle just like I won’t meddle”

Still, the CEZA CEO noted that the new Marcos administration has “very strict marching orders” for the area.

“We have had to adapt to everything that he wanted, in terms of transparency and ease of doing business. From a high of 500 employees we now reduced it to 200, we flattened our organization,” she noted.

“I come from the private sector and I know that it needs stability. Also, no red tape, and ease of business.”

At the ASEAN Gaming Summit yesterday, Alejandro Tengco, chairman and chief executive of PAGCOR said the agency is set to reduce the license fees for “online and onsite betting platforms” to a lower 35 percent rate by April 1.

Enrile commented that the area has also lowered its fees to a 5 percent franchise tax – as enforced by PAGCOR for POGOs – on gross gaming revenue to “signify it wants people to come in and make money and stay”.




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