Philippines’ CEZA optimistic about future of iGaming industry 

Jenny Ortiz 2 weeks ago
Philippines’ CEZA optimistic about future of iGaming industry 

The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) remains optimistic about the future of the iGaming industry, with plans to further develop its infrastructure and partnerships to foster growth. In an interview with SiGMA News, CEZA’s Chief of Staff, Miguel Hernandez, and Chief of Business Processing and Regulation, Novy Cruz, shared insights on their strategic initiatives and vision for the sector. 

CEZA’s unique position in the gaming sector 

CEZA’s unique role in the iGaming sector was underscored by its ability to issue interactive gaming licences, a distinction that sets it apart from other economic zones in the Philippines. “CEZA is the only special economic zone that has the power to issue an interactive gaming licence,” Cruz explained. “We offer licences to offshore companies, including e-casino, sportsbook, and RNG licenses.” 

Cruz said the process of obtaining a CEZA gaming licence involves a thorough vetting procedure to ensure legal compliance and operational integrity. Companies must submit a letter of intent and business proposal, undergo an initial evaluation and probity check, and ultimately receive approval from CEZA’s administrator. 

Current licence holders and market dynamics 

As of now, CEZA has issued 12 interactive gaming licences and authorized 10 service providers. However, Hernandez acknowledged that these numbers represent a decline from pre-pandemic levels, when the industry experienced a peak in operator participation. “We’ve seen an exodus of gaming operators ever since the pandemic, but now there’s a resurgence,” Hernandez noted. “Many operators are showing renewed interest in CEZA, and we are seeing new licensees investing in infrastructure.” 

Hernandez attributed the renewed interest through the benefits of operating in CEZA’s controlled environment, which offers “fewer distractions and a safer, quieter location compared to major metropolitan areas.” 

Innovation and transparency 

CEZA also revealed plans to launch a blockchain-based online application system. This system, as Cruz elaborated, will integrate probity checks, transaction monitoring, and AML compliance, ensuring full transparency and accountability.  

“The purpose of it being on the blockchain is for full transparency because if the system is utilising blockchain technology, there’s no way to alter it,” Hernandez added. 

Outlook and infrastructure development 

Looking ahead, CEZA‘s outlook for the iGaming industry is bullish. Hernandez expressed confidence in the sector’s growth, supported by CEZA’s proactive measures and the leadership of Secretary Katrina Ponce Enrile. “Our short to mid-term plan is very bullish. We are seeing an influx of operators wanting to come back or establish new licences,” he said. 

Part of CEZA’s growth strategy involves the development of a central business district within the economic zone. This mixed-use development will include commercial, residential, and industrial spaces, addressing the current shortage of available infrastructure. “All our buildings are fully occupied, so we encourage new licensees to build their own infrastructure,” Cruz said. 

Engagement at SiGMA Asia 

Miguel Hernandez highlighted the significance of the partnership with SiGMA Asia, stating, “We started this relationship last year during SiGMA 2023 when it was first held here in Manila. We are looking forward to SiGMA 2024 and having it here in Manila again. It’s a testament to the growth of the iGaming industry here in the Philippines.”  

This partnership, according to Hernandez, is instrumental in creating a more advantageous environment for gaming operators within CEZA. The continuous collaboration with SiGMA is expected to yield mutual benefits and contribute to the industry’s expansion. 

CEZA’s participation in SiGMA Asia is anticipated to be a pivotal event. Both Hernandez and Cruz expressed enthusiasm about the opportunities the event presents. “It’s a good venue to create new relationships and forge stronger alliances within the industry,” Hernandez remarked. 

The CEZA team is eager to meet global leaders in the gaming industry, learn from their experiences, and attract new operators and service providers to their jurisdiction. “We are looking forward to meeting various players in the gaming industry and showcasing the advantages of operating within CEZA,” Cruz concluded. 

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