China & Philippines To Combat Illegal Online Gambling
The illegal online gambling business in Asia is flourishing as offshore operators target lucrative markets like Mainland China. The Philippines has turned into a hub for offshore operators to set up operations and target gamblers in China.
The Philippines is looking to curb illegal gambling in the country as Filipino senators have recently called for the government to do more to crack down on illegal Chinese workers who are brought to the Philippines to work and cater to the Chinese market.
Teodoro Locsin, Jr., the Philippines’ new Foreign Affairs Secretary said that China and the Philippines should set up a measure that allows for full cooperation between the two countries concerning illegal gambling.
In a statement, Locsin said
Far from endangering or anyway affecting our relations with China, we are going to do two things. One, online gambling is illegal and we are going to stop it with the help of China and there will be no objections from both sides.
This statement was made during Locsin’s confirmation, where senators pointed out that the entry of illegal Chinese workers could result in local Filipino workers being muscled out of jobs. Senator Risa Hontiveros pointed out that this could be considered as an assault on the Philippines’ economy and sovereignty.
As it is the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is already taking steps by forming a task force that will check on the operations of the Philippine Offshore Gambling Operators (POGOs) in the country. A majority of the legal Chinese workers are registered under POGOs as their employees.
PAGCOR Taking Steps
DOLE will not be the only one looking into this matter. PAGCOR, the Philippines’ gambling regulator, is also taking a closer look at these operations. Their plan is to conduct random checks of POGOs to ensure that no illegal workers are employed.
This plan was recently presented by PAGCOR Chairperson Andrea Domingo in a press conference where the gaming regulator will impose a first time fine on a company that has employed any illegal worker. A repeat offense will have PAGCOR revoking the operator’s license.
Right now, there are 56 licensed POGOs in the country with an additional 200 service providers. The ratio for the workers employed by these operations is one Filipino for every four foreign workers. This is mainly because a lot of POGOs have Mandarin and Cantonese speaking staff to handle online customer support. Filipinos are employed in IT, live studios and other back office roles.
Earlier checks for illegal gambling have already borne fruit. PAGCOR, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Philippine National Police have already closed down more than 130 illegal gambling operations in the country.