Potential Philippine offshore gambling ban could cost over 22,000 jobs

Potential Philippine offshore gambling ban could cost over 22,000 jobs

Labour secretary Bienvenido Laguesma has warned that the closure of offshore gambling operators would affect employment.

The Philippines.- Labour secretary Bienvenido Laguesma has warned that more than 22,000 workers could face unemployment if the government bans offshore gaming operations. In a television interview, he said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is preparing measures to support affected workers should the government decide to go ahead with a ban.

Laguesma said there are around 50 legitimate offshore gaming operators in the Philippines employing over 22,000 Filipinos. Additionally, around 8,000 foreign nationals, primarily from Vietnam, are legally working in the online gaming sector.

Several Philippine lawmakers are calling for a ban on offshore gaming companies. A security expert has described operators as “Trojan horses” that could be used by China to stage “surprise attacks” against military installations.

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

See also: Archbishop joins calls for a ban on offshore gambling operators in the Philippines

PAGCOR: 44 operators and service providers licensed under PIGO regime so far

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) says that as of early June, it has authorised 44 operators and service providers under its Philippine Inland Gaming Operator (PIGO) licensing programme, which was introduced in 2020.

The regulator has approved 10 operators to run online and remote gaming platforms, most of them integrated resort and hotel casino operators. These include Bloomberry Resorts and Hotels, Travellers International Hotel Group, Stotsenberg Leisure Park and Hotel, Thunderbird Pilipinas Hotels & Resorts, and Eastbay Resorts.

The other online gaming operators approved are Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment, MJC Investments Corp, Hann Philippines, and BB International Leisure and Resort Development. Bingo Plus, run by AB Leisure Exponent and owned by Digiplus, is the only operator approved for online casino that does not run a land-based casino.

Meanwhile, PAGCOR’s Electronic Gaming Licensing Department has licenced 34 service providers for eCasino games, sports betting, eBingo, and speciality games. These operators, including Jade Entertainment and Gaming Technologies, PhilWeb Corp, and TGXI, are required to have a physical presence in the country. Thirteen of the 34 have yet to start commercial operations.

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