Philippine government still to decide on offshore gaming ban

Philippine government still to decide on offshore gaming ban

Socioeconomic planning secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the government is assessing how to soften the possible economic impact.

The Philippines.- Arsenio Balisacan, the Philippines’ socioeconomic planning secretary, has said the government has not yet made a decision on calls to ban offshore gambling operators but is exploring possible steps to soften the economic impact of any ban.

In previous statements, Balisacan had argued in favour of a ban as has finance secretary Ralph Recto. Labour secretary Bienvenido Laguesma said analysis is being carried out on the possible impact on unemployment. In June, he warned that more than 22,000 workers could face unemployment if the government bans offshore gaming operations. 

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The Chinese Embassy in Manila also called on the Philippines to prohibit offshore gaming operators. In a statement, it said nearly 3,000 Chinese nationals had been implicated in crimes such as telecom fraud related to offshore gaming operators since 2018.

PAOCC official suggests phasing out offshore gaming operators

Winston Casio, an official from the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), has advocated for a phased approach to eliminating offshore gaming operators (previously called POGOS) instead of an immediate ban. He has suggested this would be more effective than an immediate ban but acknowledged that such decisions fall outside his jurisdiction.

Currently, 42 offshore gaming operators operate legally in the Philippines, with one located in Kawit, Cavite, and the remainder in Metro Manila. Casio said the government had cancelled 298 licences but that many of these operators continued to function illegally in various regions, including Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Bicol, Mindanao and Central Visayas.

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