Philippine gaming operator and regulator PAGCOR has issued a ‘stern warning’ to POGO providers ‘engaged in illegal activities’, as calls for a shutdown of the sector continue to grow.

The group noted that PAGCOR’s chairman, Alejandro H. Tengco, ‘enjoined all licensees and service providers to operate only within the bounds of their licenses or accreditations’.

The warning follows a raid on a site in the Clark Freeport Zone, operated by CGC Technologies, ‘an accredited gaming customer relations service provider’ over ‘alleged credit card fraud, serious illegal detention, and human trafficking activities’.

The raid resulted in the retrieval of over 1,000 foreigners from the facility, nearly 130 of which were from the Philippines, with the rest from China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Bhutan. It prompted an investigation by the Philippine Department of Justice into the POGO licensees in the nation.

The gaming regulator has ‘expressed full support to the decision of the DOJ and the BI (Bureau of Immigration) to order the immediate repatriation of the foreign nationals rescued during the incident’.

The raid also netted over 1,000 computers and devices, which the authority notes ‘were subjected to forensic investigation’.

PAGCOR has announced that ‘once the establishments were proven to be involved in illegal activities, the state-run gaming firm will immediately cancel the company’s accreditation’

The firm was found to be operating six buildings within the Sun Valley Business Hub, with two of these accredited by PAGCOR.

Speaking of the POGO clean-up efforts, PAGCOR’s Chairman noted that “only through regulated and responsible gaming can we minimize, if not totally eradicate all crimes that are being linked to gaming activities”.

POGOs have been the focus in particular of a campaign by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who considers them “useless”, calling on the government to shut them down amongst recent alleged human trafficking cases.