Philippines Studying Consequences Of A Online Gambling Shutdown
The Philippines has been benefiting greatly from the growth of the online gambling industry in the country. The revenue generated from the iGaming industry is significant as the government collections millions of dollars in the form of gaming licenses and taxes. The industry also creates thousands of jobs for the locals and has boosted commercial real estate prices as Philippine offshore gambling operators (POGOs) have taken up some of the best offices in Metro Manila.
However, there is a lot of concern over the fast growing online gambling industry in the country and as a result the authorities are studying the consequences of ending online gambling in the country.
Benjamin Diokno, governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and head of the Anti-Money Laundering Council, has ordered an investigation into online gambling and its effects on the local economy.
Diokno wants the Philippines to be prepared for a worst case scenario in case POGOs decided to suddenly wind up operations and leave the country. He believes that their departure will not only impact the government but also the real estate and restaurant industry.
POGOs are one of the biggest contributors to the local economy, with many Chinese visitors being drawn to the Philippines to work in them. These workers are fueling a property boom and increased retail spending. Reports suggest that there are 60 licensed POGOs in the Philippines but critics say there are a lot more operating without a license.
China Piling On The Pressure
China has encouraged the Philippines to crackdown on online gaming. This is to support the Chinese government’s efforts to stop cross-border gambling which mainland criminals use to embezzle and launder funds. Chinese officials were especially concerned about the practice of proxy betting.
Proxy betting is when bettors used live streaming or mobile phones to gamble at real casinos, no matter where their location is. Many of these POGOs in the Philippines specifically target Chinese gamblers and hence the Philippines is concerned with the pressure that Beijing is imposing.
Currently, the Philippine gambling regulator has stopped issuing licenses to online gambling firms. Local lawmakers have also called for tighter controls on Chinese visitors, citing security concerns and the fact that many of them could be illegal workers.
However, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), which regulates the Philippine gaming market has supposedly issued another two licenses to POGOs after the official license freeze. The regulator explained that there were three firms that were waiting for license approval and these two firms that got their license were part of the group. However, the regulator did not reveal any additional information about the firms.