What are POGOs and who is allowed to play on them?

Chinese nationals are the main consumers of POGOs.
Chinese nationals are the main consumers of POGOs.

POGOs conduct online gambling operations from the Philippines, offering services to foreigners based in other countries.

Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) are online gambling companies that operate in the Philippines but offer their services to customers outside of the country.

POGOs carry out their transnational gambling operations through online videos of dealers who conduct the activities on tables within offices in the Phillippines as players watch from their homes elsewhere.

In return for operating in the country, POGOs set aside 50 per cent of their total gaming revenue to the Philippine national government and other mandated beneficiaries. In 2019 alone, the Philippines collected P14.28bn in taxes from POGO operations.

In order to be considered legal in the Philippines, offshore gaming operators must hold a license with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). At present, there are 46 PAGCOR licensed POGOs in the country.

Who is allowed to play?

According to Philippine law, only foreigners (non-Philippine nationals) based in another country and over the age of 21 are permitted to use the services of POGOs.

That means foreign nationals living in the Philippines are not permitted to use POGOs, and nor are Philippine nationals living abroad.

Who actually plays?

The main customers for POGOs are Chinese nationals since online gambling is illegal in China. While the use of POGOs is prohibited by Chinese law, it is still common practice to use them in the country.

PAGCOR places full responsibility on the offshore gaming operators themselves to ensure no wagers are accepted in jurisdictions where the activity is illegal.

While it does specify that operators must provide a licence from the foreign jurisdiction where the feed will be streamed, it is assumed that operators either provide fake licences or none at all.

The bottom line is that PAGCOR knows that all forms of gambling are illegal in China yet its licensed POGOs continue to offer their services there anyway.

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