Sunday, December 10, 2023

Call for immediate shutdown of POGOs gains further momentum, to be debated this week

Philippine Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno has doubled down on immediately kicking out Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) from the country and barring their entry.

Speaking to media on Friday, the Secretary didn’t comment on a proposed three-month phasing-out plan proposed by the Senate Committee on Means and Ways, merely saying “I want to see them go”.

Diokno notes that the ban on POGOs means that “players won’t be allowed to enter anymore” – pointing in particular to “Chinese operators”, noting “you shouldn’t grant those visas”.

He also called for banks to be banned from doing business “with these people”.

Philippine Senator Sherwin Gatchalian – a long-term proponent of banning POGOs – also noted his confidence that the ban could happen soon, citing support from former Senate minority floor leader Franklin Drilon.

“It’s worth noting that Drilon has consistently advocated for the expulsion of POGOs, asserting that the country is being exploited by organized crime syndicates for money laundering through POGO operations,” Gatchalian told media.

The recommendations issued by the Senate Committee on Means and Ways, which is headed by Senator Gatchalian, is set to be discussed in plenary sessions this week.

“I am confident that my colleagues in the Senate will support the POGO ban to sustain the development of the country,” noted Gatchalian, also saying that the nation’s president had urged him to keep an eye on the industry.

The nation’s gaming regulator PAGCOR, has called for a massive clean-up of the industry, requiring all license holders to reapply and face higher rates, in a bid to weed out illegal operators.

Numerous raids, conducted after tip-offs of illegal activity including human trafficking and crypto schemes, have brought the POGO issue fully into the public eye, prompting a calls for a total ban on the operations – citing other jurisdictions’ policies that don’t allow offshore gaming.


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