PhilWeb stops operations

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(File photo) Just a week after President Rodrigo Duterte's speech against Roberto Ongpin, PhilWeb Corp. is halting its operations after PAGCOR decided not to renew its license.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — PhilWeb Corp. is halting its operations after the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) decided not to renew its license, which expired today.

The company is "winding down operations as a service provider to PAGCOR's e-Games network due to the expiration of its Intellectual Property Licensing and Management Agreement," PhilWeb President Dennis Valdes said in a disclosure.

The trading of PhilWeb shares is also suspended temporarily from August 10 to 31, as "material uncertainties and unverified material information" affect the business of the company, a separate disclosure read.

PhilWeb shares closed at ₱4.25 apiece on Tuesday, its last trading day. It plunged about 17% from the day before and nearly 77% in the last year.

Also read: Analyst says crackdown hurts online gambling industry

Swift unravelling

This is the latest event in the swift unravelling of the online gaming company -- just a week after President Rodrigo Duterte's speech against then-PhilWeb chair Roberto Ongpin.

Duterte had singled out Ongpin as one of the country's "monster" oligarchs he wished to "destroy." He accused Ongpin, a former Trade minister, of currying favor with previous presidents and using their influence to boost his businesses.

Ongpin has led various companies like property developer Alphaland Corp., local miner Philex Mining Corp., and lender Philippine Bank of Communications, Inc.

But of late, the most controversial of his companies has been PhilWeb, after Duterte vowed to end online gambling during his presidency.

Ongpin and his daughter Anna Bettina have both since resigned from PhilWeb after Duterte's comments.

Emergency briefing

PhilWeb is holding an emergency briefing today with its shareholders, directors, branch operators and employees to discuss what the company will do next.

Valdes maintains PhilWeb is fully compliant with the law. He claims the company does not operate as an online casino, but merely provides software for PAGCOR's e-Games branches.

PhilWeb sought a meeting with PAGCOR yesterday to negotiate its license renewal, but the gaming regulator declined, in line with Duterte's directives to shut down gambling operators.

PhilWeb has run PAGCOR's e-Games network for 14 years. It has 286 branches and more than 5,000 employees.