Philippines House panel approves proposed ban on offshore gaming operators

Jenny Ortiz 1 week ago
Philippines House panel approves proposed ban on offshore gaming operators

A panel at the Philippines’ House of Representatives approved two measures banning Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) citing the spate of crimes linked to them and security issues.

The House Committee on Games and Amusements which is chaired by Cavite Rep. Antonio Ferrer, gave the go signal to House Bill No. 5082 or the “Banning and Declaring Illegal Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs)” authored by Manila lawmaker Bienvenido Abante.

The panel also gave a nod to House Resolution No. 1197 entitled “Urging the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR)” to ban POGOs in the Philippines authored by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said that the Philippines government should not disregard Philippine National Police records showing that 4,039 individuals fell victim to POGO-related crimes.

“This has been the situation from the time I filed this [Resolution] in August 2023, [and] many more crimes have been committed. This is why I would say whatever the benefits accrued to our country, it has produced grave concerns and problems of peace and order. POGO has inflicted undesired results on our people,” Rodriguez said during the panel hearing on Monday.

“[POGO-related crimes] include human trafficking, forcible abduction, homicide, illegal detention, theft, robbery, extortion, serious physical injuries, swindling, grave coercion, investment scam, cryptocurrency scam, and love scam,” he added.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), the country’s regulator, assured lawmakers that the agency was already exercising strict monitoring and regulation of POGOs.

The agency also expressed reservations over banning POGO operations.

“When we did the re-evaluation in September [and] October 2023, part of the cleansing process that we did change its name, its structure and regulations,” PAGCOR chief Alejandro Tengco said at the hearing.

In 2023, PAGCOR renamed POGO to Internet Gaming Licensees “because POGO had become too negative.”

Tengco said the number of POGOs in the country was reduced to 75 from almost 300 in 2019.

“Less than that number is Chinese-owned. We were able to weed out [illegal] POGO hubs in Central Luzon. We deported close to 2,000 foreigners,” Tengco said.

“A lot of licensees who got their license during the previous administration were denied a license to operate because we believe that they are not fit to do business here,” he added.


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