Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he had no plans to ban online gambling, as it would do harm to the country’s economy.
The announcement comes amid pressure from the Chinese government to close online gambling in the Philippines.
During a meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Duterte said that many workers would lose their livelihoods if he were to declare online gambling illegal.
“Maybe out of courtesy I will listen to you, but I decide,” the President said at a press conference in Malacañang. “I decide that we need it. Many will lose their jobs.”
However, Duterte has reminded Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) to remit their dues to the government, or face consequences.
“If you make the mistake of not remitting, even if you’re a gambling lord, I don’t care who you are,” he said.
Last month, Cambodia announced it would be banning online gambling, citing threats to social order. The decision was met with praise from the Chinese government.