PIGO pioneer on the go

The pioneering Philippine Inland Gaming Operator (PIGO) licensee, Inter-Active Entertainment Solutions Technologies, Inc. (IEST), generated P113.9 million gross gaming revenues in the first half of 2021. IEST is a subsidiary of Philippine Stock Exchange-listed DFNN, Inc.

In November 2020, IEST became the first company to be issued an online gaming license by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor). The novel PIGO scheme was conceived as Pagcor’s response to the closure of land-based gaming venues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. It allows casinos and integrated resort operators to offer online gaming to existing registered members who can log in and play from anywhere in the country.

IEST’s legal domestic gaming platform, InPlay.ph, has proven to be a successful venture for DFNN. With gross bets of P2.5 billion, it contributed 12.6% of the parent company’s total revenues for the six months to June 2021 from zero last year. The remote gaming platform offers more than 500 games while providing full confidentiality and 24/7 customer service.

DFNN President and CEO Calvin Lim said: “The positive result of our revenue comparing the second quarters of 2020 and 2021 showing a 104% increase is due to the success of InPlay. It is an undeniable success as customers now opt to use the platform for the reliability and convenience that it offers.”

Mr. Lim said InPlay represents a significant measure toward regenerating revenues for the government as well as to help fight the proliferation of illegal online gambling in the country, since its technological capabilities ensure legal and secure transactions. DFNN recognizes that as the pandemic continues to hamper customer movement, it has also presented a huge gap in service delivery and an immense business opportunity for the technology sector.

Pagcor Chair and CEO Andrea Domingo revealed that online gaming has boomed because of the COVID-19 lockdowns and quarantine restrictions. She cited “e-sabong” or online cockfighting as a major source of revenue to the tune of P400 million per month. “It’s the online games now that are earning the money for the government,” Ms. Domingo disclosed during a media interview, adding that “Pagcor is on track to earn at least P38 billion this year.”

Due to the vacuum created by the exit of many Philippine offshore gaming operators or POGOs since March 2020, investors have been anticipating Pagcor’s move to find ways to increase revenues. The exodus of POGOs back to Mainland China also spelled trouble for local businesses such as property leasing, banking, fintech, transportation, and restaurants.

IT solutions companies like DFNN and IEST are poised to capitalize on the digital shift and other current trends in the coming months. Aside from their InPlay platform, they also hold licenses for electronic gaming machines, a sports betting exchange, and pari-mutuel games from Pagcor. Having a first mover advantage in the PIGO industry is a big incentive for them to pioneer more technology-driven services in the near term.

The opinion expressed herein does not necessarily reflect the views of these institutions and BusinessWorld.


J. Albert Gamboa is the chief finance officer of Asian Center for Legal Excellence and co-chairman of the FINEX Week Committee.