PhilWeb Dips After Regulator Says It Won’t Renew Gaming Contract

  • Company shares on course for lowest close in 22 months
  • PhilWeb’s contract to operate electronic gaming ends Aug. 10

PhilWeb Corp., which operates and manages electronic casinos owned by the Philippine gaming regulator, saw its shares tumble to a 22-month low after the agency said it won’t renew the company’s contract.

“We won’t cancel it but we won’t renew it,” Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. Chief Executive Officer Andrea Domingo said in a mobile-phone message on Monday. The contract expires Aug. 10, she said.

The company’s shares fell as much as 44 percent intraday, poised for the lowest close since October 2014. The Philippine Stock Exchange Index rose 0.1 percent. PhilWeb President Dennis Valdes didn’t immediately respond to a call and mobile-phone message seeking comments.

PhilWeb shares have plunged more than 70 percent since the start of July, after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a stop to online gambling at his first cabinet meeting. PhilWeb on Sunday said it may need to shut down operations including 286 so-called e-games outlets if its contract with the government gambling regulator is canceled or not renewed.

PhilWeb has been managing the gaming regulator’s e-games network for the past 14 years, remitting 14 billion pesos ($298 million) to the agency for its share of the revenue from the operations, according to the company.

The company has said it doesn’t operate online gaming websites. PhilWeb’s electronic games can’t be accessed by office or home computers and its members-only players must be physically present at the cafes to play, it said.

PhilWeb Chairman Roberto Ongpin, who served as trade minister to the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, resigned last week after Duterte named him among those he’s targeting for alleged political connections.

The Ongpin quit his job “to save the company,” Valdes said in a statement on Sunday.