China Focuses On Cleaning Up Illegal Online Gaming Market in the Philippines
Offshore gambling operators who target Chinese residents are causing a lot of problems for Beijing. The government has been taking steps towards cracking down on them.
Their latest move targets Chinese nationals in the Philippines who are working for suspicious online companies and conning Chinese residents.
Hundreds of Chinese residents have had their passports cancelled by Beijing, with thousands more awaiting the same fate.
According to the Philippine Bureau of Immigration (BI), thousands of Chinese will soon be deported back to their home country.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila says that it has received a list of Chinese nationals that are supposed to be connected to telecommunication fraud crimes. They should have not been able to leave China and the embassy is working with Philippine authorities to find them and return them to the mainland. This step is mainly to combat the various crimes connected to them, ranging from illegal online gambling to murder.
All of this came to light last week when BI intelligence division chief Fortunato Manahan said over 800 Chinese nationals had their passports canceled by Chinese authorities. This forced the Philippine authorities to go after these Chinese visitors and apprehend them. A majority of them have already been deported while 342 more are still waiting for their turn to be deported.
The influx of Chinese immigrants was triggered back in 2016 when President Rodrigo Duterte took office. This was when Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) were let into the country. POGOs targeted Chinese customers on the mainland and they were supposed to generate billions of pesos in tax revenue.
What the Philippines received in return was hundreds of thousands of undocumented Chinese workers. Many of them are employed by the many illegal POGOs that started popping up in the country. This followed an increase in various crimes including kidnapping, prostitution and murder.
POGOs Causing Trouble
These POGOs are using the lax oversight of the Philippine authorities and major corruption to slip in more Chinese tourists. For example, Jessa Fernandez, POGO licensing senior manager at the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), says that some firms started operating immediately despite only having a license only to prepare their operations for launch.
Originally, Beijing was content to wait for the Philippines to take action. But the latest moves from China mean that it is finally taking steps to crack down on these POGOs, with its very public condemnation and requests for their shutdown.