The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR) has defended its offshore online gambling industry (POGOs), saying it expects the sector to generate PHP10 billion ($176.3 million) by 2027.
That figure is higher than the PHP8 billion that Philippine Offshore Gambling Operators generated prior to Covid, which forced widespread closures.
PAGCOR gave the figure in a Senate Ways and Means Committee hearing on Wednesday. The regulator presented a “roadmap” for regulating the online industry and boosting revenue, local media reported.
The committee is evaluating whether POGOs should be allowed to continue operating after a wave of kidnappings and other violent crimes linked to the sector earlier this year. PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco said in a September statement that the incidents were tarnishing the image of the country.
The regulator has blamed the incidents on illegal operators and not on the licensed industry.
Still, according to local media reports, senators were not convinced by PAGCOR’s four-page plan to improve the POGO situation.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian questioned PAGCOR senior manager Renfred Tan about where POGO revenues were coming from and how many jobs would be created should revenue rise.
Tan said the only way PAGCOR has of identifying the source of revenue was through the currencies used in gambling transactions. However, he added that doesn’t necessarily reflect the country of origin as the players are able to use the currency they wish regardless of origin.
The figures show that about 47 percent of transactions are in Chinese yuan, which will raise further alarm bells in Beijing. Mainland China is opposed to POGOs, which it claims are primarily targeting its nationals.