The Philippines revoked 175 Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) licenses up to the middle of September, as its crackdown into illegal activities in the sector intensifies.
The official Philippines New Agency reports that the POGOs employed as many as 40,000 Chinese nationals. The government plans to deport 300 in the first week of October, with a further 3-4000 by the middle of the month.
PNA cited Mico Clavano, Department of Justice (DOJ) assistant spokesperson, as saying that the government is concerned that the problems, which have affected mainly Chinese, will eventually spillover into Philippines society.
The Philippines is the only jurisdiction in Asia to allow online gambling, but the sector is now under threat. Incoming President Ferdinand Marcos ordered a clean up of the industry following a rise in kidnappings and allegations of human trafficking.
Calls for Philippines POGO ban
The reports of such crimes led a leading senator this month to call for a total ban on online gambling in the Philippines. Senators overall are divided on the issue, although the bill does enjoy bipartisan support.
Alejandro Tengco, CEO of the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR) called on the industry to self regulate and cooperate in weeding out illegal online operators before they put the entire sector at risk.
POGOs proved a lucrative source of revenue for the government prior to the pandemic, however, the industry has been plagued by problems. Prior to the pandemic, reports of widespread immigration violations, tax evasion and crime tarnished the image of the industry.
The Philippines also regulates domestic online gambling through so-called PIGO licenses.
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