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Online needs better regulation, less red tape: CEZA CEO

The head of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) in the Philippines says the country needs to “regulate a bit more” the online gaming industry, “but not to the point that creates too many hurdles for investors”.

“Since 2001, we have been issuing interactive gaming licenses, not offshore gaming licenses,” said Katrina Ponce-Enrile (pictured), CEZA’s administrator and chief executive, referring latterly to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators, now called Internet Gaming Licensees (IGLs).

“This fostered a conducive environment for gaming operators to succeed, while prioritizing consumer protection and market integrity,” stated the executive. She was speaking in Manila on Wednesday at the ASEAN Gaming Summit, a gaming-industry trade event.

“This ecosystem worked perfectly until greed altered the landscape. POGOs have now been correlated with criminality because of the failure of other gaming regulators to effectively monitor and regulate their jurisdiction,” she said, adding that she was not referring “to the present administration”.

According to the CEO, a “lack of oversight and inadequate enforcement” allowed some “criminal elements to exploit loopholes and operate with impunity, which tarnished the reputation of legitimate operators”.

The executive said that CEZA’s system, “as purely regulators, continues to provide operators with a proper regulatory framework that allows them to grow their business”.

According to CEZA’s management, the authority will launch in April an online system for companies to apply for a license for CEZA. The move is part of the authority’s commitment to “improve the ease of doing business and also to be compliant with other government agencies”.

Ms Ponce-Enrile observed that the online gaming industry in the Asia-Pacific region was “poised for exponential growth, driven by factors such as increased smartphone usage and an emerging population of digital users, as well as the progressive legalization of online gambling”.

She added: “Our region is anticipated to register a compound annual growth rate of over 12 percent through 2030, and will have 333 million new mobile Internet subscribers by year 2025.”



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