Philippines shuts 214 illegal Chinese offshore gambling firms

Content Team 1 year ago
Philippines shuts 214 illegal Chinese offshore gambling firms

The Philippine Justice Ministry confirmed it plans to discontinue operations of all illegal Chinese offshore gambling companies and has begun deporting the first of approximately 400 detained Chinese workers.

Crackdown is directed against illegal Chinese gambling operators

Justice Ministry spokesperson Jose Dominic Clavano was cited by media as saying this “crackdown was triggered by reports of murder, kidnapping and other crimes committed by Chinese nationals against fellow Chinese nationals”.

However, he stressed that no POGO that is working legitimately had been closed. Only entities with expired, or revoked licenses for violations like non-payment of government fees were shut down.

The country’s government manages gambling through the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), a state-owned enterprise which both operates a number of individual casinos and in turn acts as a regulator to privately owned casino operators.

The Philippine gambling industry developed in 2016 and has seen exponential growth since. Since 2016, PAGCOR has also granted operating licenses and overseen the regulation of the growing online gambling sector serving offshore markets.

That’s how casino gambling and integrated resorts became one of the critical components of the Philippine touristic offer as casino operators capitalised on the country’s liberal gaming laws targeting Chinese customers.

Philippine offshore gambling operators (POGOs) employed over 300,000 Chinese workers during its peak season. However, when the pandemic hit, and the state introduced higher taxation – many operators searched for profits elsewhere.

Beijing backs the Philippine crackdown on illegal gambling

According to the Ministry of Finance, the country generated around 7.2 billion pesos ($122.21 million) in 2020 and 3.9 billion in 2021 in POGO fees alone.

China’s embassy in Manila confirmed Beijing’s support for this move, adding that is “widely believed that social costs of POGO far outweigh its economic benefits to the Philippines in the long run”.

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