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HomeNewsPhilippinesPOGO ban being pushed on Marcos administration, impacts being evaluated

POGO ban being pushed on Marcos administration, impacts being evaluated

The economic team of the Marcos administration has yet to discuss a potential ban on Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) in the country, although steps are now being taken to address the possible impacts of their expulsion on the economy.

According to the Philippine News Agency, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, who heads the administration’s economic team, said the matter has not been tackled at their level yet.

However, Balisacan has previously expressed support for banning POGOs, citing the industry’s high social costs that put the country’s reputation at risk.

“It may be a big number but the cost, particularly social cost of POGOs, [is] quite high. We’re trying to position our country as a legitimate place for business. We’re trying to attract investors to come, tourists to come. So the least that we want is to have a reputation that we are a haven for criminals, things like that,” Balisacan said during a Palace briefing.

According to Philippine gaming operator and regulator PAGCOR, POGO (now known as IGL) revenues in 2023 reached PHP3.45 billion ($60.87 million), with estimates stating this income could rise steadily in coming years to PHP10.22 billion ($180.26 million) by 2027.

While the government’s revenue from POGOs may be substantial, Balisacan believes the social repercussions outweigh the financial gains. “The social cost [is very high]. The way we view it [at] NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority), [it] may not be worth those revenues because if we succeed in generating those jobs anyway, we will get much more than those we lost,” he added.

On the other hand, Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma said his department is already taking steps to address the “negative effects” of a potential POGO ban. Laguesma revealed that they are currently conducting a “profiling” of workers in the industry to prepare for the transition.

“I can’t say that we are ready, but we are preparing. We anticipate the possible negative effects, that’s also the reason why we do the profiling. We cannot actually wait for the day of its closure, we should be transitioning also,” Laguesma said.

Calls for the banning of POGOs have intensified after a series of raids uncovered various criminal activities associated with the industry, including torture, kidnapping, and other illicit operations.

Finance Secretary Ralph Recto has also indicated that he will recommend to the President to stop POGO operations due to these issues.

AGBrief Editorial
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The AGBrief Editorial Team is a group of contributors living around the world that are connected to Asia Gaming Brief. They are active members in pursuing the sources of our news, making them reliable and accurate for our readers.

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