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PAGCOR Chairman doesn’t want police powers, eliminating IGLs won’t stop foreign criminal activity

The Chairman of the Philippines’ gaming regulator (PAGCOR) says that he doesn’t want the authority to have police powers and that even if all offshore gaming licenses (POGOs) were canceled, foreign criminal activity would remain a problem.

Alejandro H. Tengco, Chairman and CEO of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), told AGB that the main problem with criminal foreign syndicates – namely Chinese – operating in the Philippines under the guise of being offshore gaming licensees (formerly POGOs, now known as IGLs) was that those involved would remain in the country even if their operations are shut down.

“Will these people who are here in the Philippines still go back to China? No!”

Alejandro H. Tengco

The statements preempt those released by PAGCOR on Sunday, in which Tengco noted that “We do not need to outlaw POGOs; what we need to do is intensify anti-crime operations against suspected alien hackers, against scammers and cyber-criminals who are usually hiding in highly secured buildings and compounds”.

Speaking to AGB during G2E Asia 2024, the Chairman noted that “these companies that we are raiding or operating against are not legal licensees of PAGCOR. So, whatever we will do, whether a decision will be made by President Marcos that we should stop issuing licenses, or we should stop IGLs completely, the bigger problem will be truly that the illegals will not get out of this business.”

Tengco furthered that “assuming that there’s a decision that all the licenses will be canceled, these criminal activities will continue because there is no way they will be accepted in China”.

The official cited some 3,000 deportations that took place in 2023, with those involved immediately remanded into custody upon arriving in their home country. Tengco had previously told AGB that illegal operators in the Philippines were actively fighting their extradition, oftentimes using the same lawyers, given their certainty that they would face imprisonment upon arriving in their home country.

No need for police powers

While eliminating the illegal activities linked to alleged offshore gaming entities entirely is deemed to be impossible by the official, PAGCOR’s efforts in coordinating with enforcement bodies has been exemplary, opines Tengco.

“In the past administration in PAGCOR, they had zero fines and penalties. They did not even initiate a raid against these illegal, or unscrupulous, operators. Now that I’m focused with compliance and monitoring what they have to do, the results are very clear.”

Tengco points in particular to collaboration with the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), National Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice and Department of Interior Local Government, noting “we’re all working together”.

Given this collaboration, Chairman Tengco says that “honestly, I don’t want PAGCOR to have police powers because it can broaden your responsibilities and your focus might be distracted.”

He furthers that “I’d rather that my focus remains on assessing if they should be given a license or not. And, if ever they’re given licenses, they will be monitored in terms of compliance and in terms of their legitimate operations.”

In his keynote speech at G2E Asia, the Chairman noted that, since 4Q22, PAGCOR had provided intelligence agencies with information that led to 10 successful operations involving internet gaming licensees. The official noted that 65 IGLs and service providers had been penalized since he assumed office and that PAGCOR has collected some $4.6 million from erring service providers of both eGames and IGL licensees.

Kelsey Wilhelm
Kelsey Wilhelm
Kelsey Wilhelm is a broadcast, print journalist and editor based in Asia for over 15 years. Focused on content creation, management, cross-cultural exchange and interviews for multi-lingual productions. Writing focus on gaming, business, politics, culture and heritage, events and celebrities, subcultures, music, film, art and fashion. Some of Kelsey's specialties are: editing, writing, copy creation, multi-lingual content production, cross-cultural exchange, content creation and management for Asian markets.



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