Two more Philippine senators call for ban on offshore gambling operators

Two more Philippine senators call for ban on offshore gambling operators

Senators Joel Villanueva and Grace Poe have called for urgent action.

The Philippines.- Senator Joel Villanueva has called for a ban on offshore gambing operators. Villanueva said there was mounting evidence linking operators to “crimes such as torture, kidnapping, murder, and human trafficking.” He criticised the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) for failing to ensure operators conduct their business legally.

He noted that businesses raided in Bamban, Tarlac, and Porac, Pampanga were ex-PAGCOR licensees found to be running scam operations. He also called for an investigation into other forms of online gambling and urged Congress to expedite the passage of Senate Bill No. 1281, which aims to prohibit all forms of online gambling.

See also: Philippine lawmaker proposes new regulator to replace PAGCOR

Senator Grace Poe has also called for a ban, describing offshore gambling operators as “breeding grounds for corruption”. Poe said some legal operators rent out their permits to others, complicating regulation efforts.

Robert Ace Barbers, chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs, and senators Imee Marcos, Risa Hontiveros and Sherwin Gatchalian have made similar calls. The latter has introduced Senate Bill 2689 seeking to prohibit the operations of offshore gaming companies. The bill aims to repeal Republic Act 11590, which was enacted on September 22, 2021, by former president Rodrigo Duterte.

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