Philippine senator continues push to ban POGOs

Gatchalian has presented a bill to ban POGOs.
Gatchalian has presented a bill to ban POGOs.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has delivered a new report on the POGO industry.

The Philippines.- The Philippine senator Sherwin Gatchalian has again called on the government to ban Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs). He’s presented a report to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means that concludes that POGOs have created new forms of crime and corruption, damaging the country’s reputation. 

The report finds that “POGOs have failed to provide the promised economic benefits to the Filipino people”. It recommends that the Executive Department immediately ban such operations in the country and provide assistance to held affected Filipino workers find alternative employment. 

It suggests that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) collect outstanding tax liabilities from POGO licensees, service providers, and third-party auditors, and cancel working visas and Alien Employment Permits issued to foreign POGO workers to facilitate their deportation back to their home countries.

Gatchalian says POGOs are inherently unstable because of the outsized foreign regulatory and political risks involved. He noted that Chinese nationals are the most prolific POGO consumers, which is problematic because gambling is illegal in China.

The report highlights the industry’s “troubling social risks”, counting at least 102 POGO-related crimes reported between January 1, 2017, and January 23, 2023, victimising around 316 people, most of them Chinese. The POGO industry also appears to be a potent source of financial crime, with reports indicating that service providers are highly vulnerable to money laundering.

Gatchalian has previously said a ban on POGOs won’t affect the economy. He believes the impact of a ban could be mitigated by attracting BPO companies, which could take up office space left by gaming operators.

See also: Survey shows 58% of Filipinos believe POGOs are harmful

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