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Asia’s Global Gaming Expo starts on May 15

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Asia’s Global Gaming Expo is all set to begin on May 15 at The Venetian Macao. The three-day event is expected to attract over 15,000 visitors. This is the 12th edition of the event and it will comprise four main tracks: The Future of Gaming; The Future of Integrated Resorts; The Future of Digital Content & Technology and IAGA Best Practices Institute.

Headline speakers include the director of the DICJ, Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, Paulo Martins Chan and Melco Resorts & Entertainment Limited CEO and chairman, Lawrence Ho Yau Lung – son of the grandfather of modern Macau gambling and a man who cleared over $1.2 billion from the industry in 2017.

The three-day event is organised by the American Gaming Association (AGA) and Reed Exhibitions and has been seen as the preeminent show for the Asian gaming since its launch in 2017. The conference and exhibition has seen continued growth over the years with 2018 expected to surpass last year’s numbers by as much as 30 per cent.

While the focus of the show is strictly Asian, industry organisations and academics from the US will lend their experience to a think tank the AGA has created to address operators’ social responsibility with a focus on responsible gambling – an issue of high importance to Japanese lawmakers as they ready landmark legislation for integrated casino resorts in that country. The International Gaming Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers will contribute to the think tank.

Geoff Freeman, president, and CEO of the AGA said in a press release last month: “It’s time to comprehensively review existing responsible gaming policies and regulations.” He added, “We must drive a new discussion around proven, effective programmes and ensure that governments are appropriately allocating resources.”

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PAGCor Says 188BET’s Return to the Philippines a Huge Vote of Confidence

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The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCor) today said that it welcomes the decision of online gaming giant 1888BET to move its operations from the Isle of Man back to the Philippines.

The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for PAGCor, Alejandro H Tengco, said 188BET’s return ‘is a huge vote of confidence for the country as a regulatory haven and this is precisely what PAGCor is working hard at’.

“188BET’s move is a very positive response to our call for gaming investors to come to the Philippines,” Tengco said. “We would like to assure 188BET and other potential investors that PAGCor shall continue to be fair to everybody and that there will be a level playing field with a predictable and dependable regulatory framework.”

188BET announced its decision to move its operations to the Philippines earlier this week. The sports betting and casino company said that, effective March 19, its current operator, Cube Limited, will surrender its current Io MGSC licence in the Isle of Man and that 188BET will be operated by a new Philippines-based company, BestCommerce Corporation, which is licensed and regulated by PAGCor.

Tengco encouraged other investors to ride on the Philippine gaming industry’s growth momentum.

“Overall, the industry can expect sustained growth in the next five years with at least one integrated resort (IR) opening every year beginning this year in Quezon City to be followed by new IRs in Cebu, Clark and other equally strategic locations,” Tengco said.

He added that the industry can also expect PAGCor’s full decoupling from its casino operations within that time frame to become a purely regulatory entity dedicated to overseeing growth and attracting more investments.

“We shall also continue lowering our license fees and modernizing our systems to help realize our vision of making the Philippines the gold standard in gaming in the Asia-Pacific region,” Tengco said.

188BET used to hold office in Makati but it moved out of the country during the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

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PAGCOR PHOTO CONTEST DRAWS 2K EARLY REGISTRANTS IN 1ST WEEK

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THE Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) today reported a robust response to its much-anticipated annual photography contest after close to 2,000 individuals registered to join in the first five days after the contest launch on February 15.

PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco said the state gaming firm’s official website (www.pagcor.ph) also logged an 85.49% increase in page views compared to the previous week after the 2024 PAGCOR Photography Contest opened.

“We also monitored a 73.43% increase in our website users after we announced the start of the photography competition,” the PAGCOR chief said.

“We are optimistic that with the bigger cash prizes, lower age requirement and the new drone category, we will entice more professional photographers and hobbyists to join and showcase their talent in this competition,” he said.

With this year’s theme, “Harvest Time”, the 2024 PAGCOR Photography Contest will highlight the Filipino’s strength of character, patience and hard work in the fields leading to and during the harvest season.

The contest also celebrates the dedication of farmers, fishermen and other producers whose labor ensures food security and sustenance for the nation.

“The summer months of April and May will be a colorful and festive season for the country, especially in the countryside. The fields are ripe for harvest, the trees are laden with fruits and the flowers are in full bloom,” Chairman Tengco said.

“We hope that our contest participants this year will be able to immortalize the remarkable and bountiful resources of the Philippines that some of us take for granted,” Chairman Tengco added.

PAGCOR has earmarked Php2.23 million for the competition’s cash prizes this year, demonstrating its commitment to recognize the outstanding work of Filipino photographers while promoting the country’s rich identity and traditions.

Entries may be submitted until July 31, 2024.

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Paving the Way for Regulated iGaming market: Will India See the Rise?

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Paving the Way for Regulated iGaming market: Will India See the Rise?
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By Dr Aruna Sharma, Practitioner Development Economist & Retd Secretary GoI

 

Could you provide insights into the current market potential for iGaming in India, and what key challenges do you anticipate the industry facing in the near future?

The popularity of online gaming as a form of entertainment in India has surged with the widespread availability of inexpensive smartphones and affordable internet access. Global investors, developers, and other industry stakeholders are keenly watching the growth story of the Indian online gaming industry which has witnessed a 28% CAGR between FY20-23 and holds a market valuation of ₹16,428 crores.

However, instead of direct contribution in the economic growth story of India the online gaming industry is contributing in terms of increasing revenue (direct and indirect tax) collection (year-on-year). Additionally, the sector has attracted budding tech developers and entrepreneurs by providing them employment opportunities and fueling innovation to keep up with the rising demand for AI and other such immersive gaming experiences.

After some crucial and elucidative changes in the regulatory and taxation policies by the government in 2023, one can hope that 2024 for iGaming will thin the clouds that are shadowing accelerated growth of iGaming in India. 2024 holds promise for iGaming in India. While full regulation may take time, positive court ruling and increased focus on non-RMG segments could cause a casual gaming boom, potentially unlocking a multi-billion dollar market. However, regulatory uncertainty and potentially high tax rates remain a hurdle for attracting investments and interest of other stakeholders in this growing market and industry.

 

What are the main challenges facing Indian iGaming and how different are these challenges within the different regions of India?

  • The government is focusing on reducing threats like false information, mental health problems, money laundering, and financial losses for users by bringing rules and regulations such as the IT Rules, establishing SROs and SRBs.
  • Adequate regulation, that is conducive to doing business, is needed, first of all, to protect the Indian players. Because in the current situation, Indians are being abused by countless nefarious parties. Checking and curbing the illegal gaming platforms and enhancing mechanisms to ensure increased user awareness and behaviour while indulging in online gaming.
  • A pressing concern that requires governments urgent attention is to put in place parameters that differentiate between games of skill and chance for taxation.
  • As a fallout of high and retrospective taxation the industry is facing job losses, advertising and spending cuts and reduced investments in research and innovations.

Additionally, policy and regulatory compliance for the platforms have become increasingly complex with both center and state governments legislating on the same subjects and multiple ministries regulating the industry.

 

Delve into the necessity for a regulatory framework that is both balanced and adaptable.

Unregulated framework where user base is large leads to spread of iGaming in gray market with all its vices. By regulating the iGaming industry, the government can unlock other positive outcomes, such as increased tax revenues, economic growth via attracting more foreign investment, job creation, and better consumer protection. A thorough regulatory framework will enable transparent parameters to distinguish and license the game of skill accordingly and rest will fall under game of chance.

Regulations always bring in transparency and ensure there is no misleading advertising or non-payment of legal taxes. Additionally, regulations such as the IT Amendment Rules, 2023 have ascertained a robust grievance redressal mechanism by setting up of the SRBs and SROs.

Further a balanced and stable regulatory framework could provide assurance and confidence to the international iGaming companies in paying taxes while doing business in a regulated and transparent market, create jobs, and invest in the country and its people. Thus, comprehensive regulations, that are conducive to doing business and protect the Indian players, who are being abused by countless nefarious parties are necessary in the current iGaming landscape.

Consequently, foreign iGaming companies operating legally have consistently demanded that the Indian government establish an adequate and stable regulation and taxation regime. Instead, the government has consistently chosen to unwisely prohibit it, thus pushing this whole industry underground. Furthermore, iGaming companies face unfair persecution and baseless lawsuits from India.

 

The new 28% GST on online gaming has produced divided opinions about the industry’s future in India. How has the industry reacted to it?

Industry initially panicked at the 28% tax, fearing slow growth and reduced investments. The partial relief, clarification on the regulatory compliances have brought cautious optimism. Smaller firms remain anxious, fearing the high rate still discourages players and favors larger businesses. Long-term impact depends on pending Supreme Court judgment on game classification and potential tweaks to the tax structure.

The applicability of a flat 28% tax on the total value of bets placed in online gaming, irrespective of whether they are games of skill or chance has upset the applecart that was moving smoothly with the evolution of agreed principles among SROs and the oversight by SRB with clear distinction of the regulatory body between Games of Skill (permissible games) with that of Games of Chance.

The matter is now being reviewed by a Group of Ministers (GoMs) comprising of officials from ministries such as the Home, Finance, MeitY, etc. to reconsider the GST and how to counter episodes of money laundering and other such scams and frauds.

 

Finally, what can we expect from Indian iGaming as a whole this year, if you were to sum it up in three key points?

It is expected that 2024 will set pace by bringing in clarity in rule making, consistency of rules, inculcating a more stable policy environment that enables India to not miss the bus of becoming a hub for developers. The iGaming industry is expected to tighten its grip for filling the digital divide, enabling learning of cognitive skills and enhance conscious citizen messaging to further tap into the positive side of iGaming.

Additionally, iGaming industry should leverage technologies like blockchain to further the purpose of transparency and tracking of digital payment as a technical solution and for permanent storage of records to curb money laundering. Alongside formulation of regulatory policies, a stricter implementation of policies such as IT Rules (establishing SRBs), mandatory KYC, and compliance with Advertisement Standard Council in India (ASCI) norms for iGaming industry need to be inculcated in ensuring safe and secure gaming platforms.

The future of the gaming industry holds promise of growth, however, there is still a hazard that due to absent market regulation and destructive policies, international iGaming companies shun India, sending an unwelcoming signal to many other potential foreign investors.

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