Philippines Clamping Down on Gambling

Publish: 02.10.2018

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) is cracking down on the underground gambling industry. In a recent effort to limit unregulated gambling activities, the agency raided around 170 establishments that operated without online gaming licenses. PAGCOR also released a statement over the weekend, warning offshore gaming operators.

Andrea D. Domingo, the PAGCOR chairperson, said in the statement that illegal offshore operators must legalize their operations or get ready to face dire consequences. The extensive campaign to limit illegal online gambling was started in June 2018. Jose S. Tria, vice-president of PAGCOR Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO), said that its campaign followed a PAGCOR meeting with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Immigration (BI) and Office of the President.

All agencies attending the meeting signed a mutual cooperation agreement to exchange intelligence information with each other. Their ultimate goal is to carry out surveillance operations, intelligence operations, etc. They can also conduct raids, make arrests or take any other actions that they deem suitable to curb the expansion of illegal online gambling activities. People who are found involved in operating without a gaming license could either be deported or brought to court.

The agency’s efforts come after President Rodrigo R. Duterte issued an executive order in 2017 to crack down on illegal gambling in both land-based and online activities. PAGCOR will play an important role in these activities. Its Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Department will ensure that all POGO license-holders operate within the country’s legal gambling framework. These operators must also comply with labor and immigration laws and must also fill their tax returns.

PAGCOR further noted that POGO licensees could be exposed to administrative penalties and sanctions if they are indulged in prohibited gambling, per the current regulations. Interestingly, Philippine offshore gaming firms have a huge Chinese market. These firms are regulated by POGO through a license which accounted for 7 percent of PAGCOR’s P57.34 billion gross gaming revenue of 2017.

Chairperson Domingo also said that PAGCOR is setting up a third-party audit platform that will become fully functional very soon. It will help in increasing the revenue collection and also ensure fairness in the activities of POGO licensees.

The Bureau of Immigration also ramped up its activities, arresting 46 Chinese nationals who were involved in various cyber frauds. The fugitives were caught in two separate operations conducted in Makati City and Muntinlupa City. Increased activity from the government agencies when it comes to online protection of Filipino customers and non-Filipino customers based abroad is expected to ring fence the illegal gambling industry.