Several Philippine Senators Have Called for a Blanket Ban on Offshore Gambling Operators
MANILA, Philippines (October 31, 2023) — The Philippine offshore gambling operators (POGOs) industry has been a subject of controversy and concern due to various issues, including human trafficking, crime, and a strain on diplomatic relations between the Philippines and China.
POGOs emerged in the Philippines in 2016 and rapidly expanded. They took advantage of the Philippines’ liberal gaming laws to target Chinese customers, where gambling is largely banned. At its peak, POGOs employed over 300,000 Chinese workers.
The recent raid on a sex trafficking ring near Manila, where over 700 victims, mostly Chinese, were rescued, is just one example of the issues associated with POGOs. These issues include human trafficking, cryptocurrency scams, kidnapping, and murder. According to police data, more than 4,000 POGO-linked crimes were reported in the first half of a year.
The industry has faced criticism for inadequate regulatory oversight. Some POGOs continued to operate even after their licenses were revoked. Lawmakers have called on the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), the regulatory authority, to improve its enforcement efforts.
The Philippine government has taken steps to address these issues. In 2022, they announced the closure of 175 POGOs and the deportation of about 40,000 Chinese workers as part of a crackdown on the industry. However, the POGO industry has been a significant contributor to the Philippine economy, delivering billions of pesos annually.
The presence of POGOs in the Philippines has strained relations with China. The Chinese government has repeatedly warned its nationals against working in POGOs in the Philippines due to the associated risks and illegal activities.
Several Philippine senators have called for a blanket ban on POGOs due to the industry’s negative impact on the country, including its involvement in sex slavery and other criminal activities. They argue that an outright ban is the only way to address the problems associated with POGOs effectively.
Authorities are investigating various aspects of POGOs, including the presence of a torture room at one of the raided buildings and the possible involvement of local law enforcement in the illicit activities.
The situation with POGOs in the Philippines remains complex and contentious, with the government, lawmakers, and law enforcement agencies working to address the issues while considering the economic implications of shutting down the industry.
SOURCE: LI Contributor.Tags: Pagcor, Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs), China, Senators