As tensions rapidly grow, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has played down the impact of the online gambling industry in China. Pointing out that foreign criminals use it to embezzle and launder funds as well as illegally recruit workers, China has urged the Philippines to ban online gaming to support its crackdown on cross-border gambling.
Following this, the Philippines’ anti-money laundering body is going to research the economic impact of halting web-based gaming. Benjamin Diokno, the governor of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), has ordered the agency and the central bank’s financial stability team to “put some sense to this online gambling.”
“Not Necessarily” Involved
Philippine offshore gambling operators (POGOs), are beneficial for the local economy…
… drawing many visitors from China who work in them, fueling property demand and retail spending. The POGOs, which bar Filipinos from playing, contribute to the national budget through license fees. Officially, there are 60 POGOs, but critics claim that the real number is much bigger.
Pointing out that online gaming companies are “not necessarily” involved in money laundering, Diokno added as follows:
“What if all of a sudden they decide to pack up and leave? What will be the impact of that on the property sector, also the food industry, the restaurants? This is part of my job as BSP governor.”
An Issue of “Perspective”
During the House budget hearing on the agency’s 2020 budget, Victor Padilla, senior manager of PAGCOR’s policy and offshore gaming licensing division, held a speech. This came just days after Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said that the Philippines should “ban all online gambling.”
As far as Padilla claims, Philippines-licensed sites were not active in any country that prohibits online gambling, per PAGCOR regulations. He also expressed doubts on claims that Chinese employees of offshore gaming operators were being mistreated, suggesting it was an issue of “perspective.”
Due to concerns about illegal operations and security…
…PAGCOR had opted to suspend the award of licenses to offshore operators (POGOs) until at least the end of this year.
This followed a Chinese embassy spokesperson in the Philippines accusing PAGCOR of issuing certificates to suppliers that illegally target Chinese nationals. Pointing out the significance of the situation, the spokesperson warned the Philippines to adopt:
“concrete and effective measures to prevent and punish the Philippine casinos, POGOs and other forms of gambling entities for their illegal employment of Chinese citizens and crack down related crimes that hurt the Chinese citizens.”
The Cambodian Government has also ceased granting new approvals to online brands with immediate effect to take measures against illegal gambling activities.
“Philippines to Study the Economic Impact of Online Gambling Ban”, Niji Narayan, europeangaming.eu, August 29, 2019.
“PAGCOR Plays Down the Impact of Philippine’s igaming Industry on China”, Niji Narayan, europeangaming.eu, August 26, 2019.