Senator calls for stronger crackdown on illegal POGOs in the Philippines 

Jenny Ortiz 2 months ago
Senator calls for stronger crackdown on illegal POGOs in the Philippines 

Philippine Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has urged the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to step up efforts in preventing foreigners engaged in illegal Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) from entering the country and setting up illicit operations. Gatchalian underscored the importance of the BI acting as effective gatekeepers against criminal elements exploiting the Philippines for illegal activities. 

The senator’s call comes amidst growing concerns over POGO-related crimes, including human trafficking. According to a report from the Philippine National Police (PNP), over 4,000 individuals were victimized in the first half of last year alone. Gatchalian emphasized the need for stringent measures to combat these criminal activities and protect the country’s citizens. 

Proposal for permanent ban 

In response to these issues, Gatchalian has proposed a resolution to permanently ban illegal POGO operations, highlighting their associations with criminal elements. Despite ongoing licensing by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), Gatchalian argued for the cessation of such activities to safeguard the country’s integrity. 

Mixed perspectives 

While some politicians and PAGCOR continue to support offshore gaming due to the revenue it generates and the jobs it creates, Gatchalian remained firm in his stance against illegal POGOs. He stressed the importance of prioritizing national security and combating organized crime over financial gains. 

Earlier this week, the Chinese Embassy in Manila expressed its endorsement of the Philippine government efforts to address the underlying issues associated with POGOs. In a statement, the Chinese Embassy said that gambling in any form is illegal according to Chinese law. It also reiterated the crackdown on Chinese nationals involved in gambling businesses abroad, emphasizing the importance of abiding by local laws and regulations. 

PAGCOR’s privatisation plans 

Meanwhile, PAGCOR has announced plans to privatise its 45 casinos by the third quarter of 2025, anticipating significant revenue generation. This strategic move aims to offset state losses resulting from unpaid dues totalling about PHP2.2 billion (€35.6 million) from closed POGO companies, indicating the government’s commitment to recouping losses while ensuring regulatory compliance. 

Upcoming SiGMA event: SiGMA Asia 2024, 3 – 5 June. Find all the details here.

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