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LRWC ordered to close 53 e-games, bingo outlets

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. has directed Leisure & Resorts World Corp. to immediately close down 53 of its electronic gaming and bingo outlets for failure to comply with the distance restriction guidelines.

This makes LRWC, the largest operator of electronic number games, the latest casualty of President Duterte’s anti-gambling campaign. The listed gaming firm is owned by the family of Negros Occidental Rep. Albee Benitez.

LRWC said the closure of the 53 sites would result in P533.2 million in foregone revenues, based on the historical first seven months of the year.

The amount represents five percent of the consolidated revenues and net income of the LRWC Group, which also comprise 69.68 percent owned First Cagayan Leisure and Resorts Corp.

According to LRWC, the related operating assets amounted to P190 million as of July 31 this year.

LRWC operates its bingo and gaming operations through AB Leisure Exponent Inc. and Total Gamezone Extreme Inc.

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In a stock exchange filing, LRWC said it would appeal Pagcor’s decision and transfer operations to compliant locations should its request for reconsideration be denied.

The government’s all out war against online gambling has already displaced some 5,000 people, that just with the closure of Philweb Corp.’s e-gaming outlets after Pagcor refused to renew the license of the Ongpin-led gaming firm.

President Duterte has somewhat softened his stance, saying he may reconsider his position and allow e-gaming firms to resume operations provided they pay the correct taxes and the facilities are away from schools and churches.

LRWC controls 35 percent of the country’s bingo market with 8,585 e-bingo machines installed nationwide as well as more than 100 bingo kiosks.

According to Bloomberg news service, bingo is the most popular form of electronic gambling in the country, accounting for three fourths of internet gaming revenue in the first semester.

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