MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday he was ordering the closure of online gaming operations in the country, sending gaming stocks on a tailspin.
Shares of PhilWeb Corp. fell 30 percent while Leisure and Resorts World dipped 20 percent after the President’s declaration, which came less than an hour before the market closed.
The President took a tougher stand after he declared in August that online gaming could resume as long as regulations are strictly enforced.
PhilWeb is applying for a new license after regulators refused in August to renew its authorization to supply software systems to gaming cafes. Its former chairman, tycoon Roberto Ongpin, resigned and divested from the company after Duterte branded him as an oligarch who must be destroyed.
"I am ordering the closure of all online gaming," Duterte said in a speech at the presidential palace.
The President cited corruption in the granting of gaming licenses which he claimed amounted to P300 billion.
“’Yung ma-appoint sa PEZA [Philippine Economic Zone Authority], he gets about P300 billion selling the umbrella-type of license…Mabuti nalang nalaman ko ‘yan,” he said.
Duterte declared immediately after assuming office on June 30 that online gambling must stop, saying it was spreading "out of control."
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said a task force will be formed to investigate the operations of online gaming.
The closure of online gaming operations will be conducted through due process, he said. -- With a report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News