Over the years, Philippine offshore gambling operators (POGOs) have taken advantage of the Philippines' relaxed gaming laws and pushed for more Chinese customers – which has led to China adding the country to the travel blacklist.
Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senate President of the Philippines, told a Senate hearing: “Ambassador Huang said that the Philippines now is part of a blacklist of tourist sites because they do not know if a tourist will be joining POGO operations and they don’t know if their nationals who go to the Philippines will be safe from illegal activities being done by the triad, by the syndicates operating POGOs. They may also be kidnapped, mistaken as POGO operators.”
However, Mike Danganan, from the Association of Service Providers and POGOs, argued the move will cause thousands of people to lose their income, estimating around 23,000 will lose ‘well-paying jobs’ should the policy proceed.
The number of Chinese visitors to the Philippines has fallen drastically in recent years, owing to the effects of China’s zero-Covid policy – with 1.7 million Chinese tourists entering the country in 2019, compared with 22,236 in 2022.
The move comes amid the Philippines’ rise in the Asian gambling sector, which has taken much of Macau’s business following the repeated lockdowns in the Chinese gambling hub. This subject will be explored in the up-and-coming November/December edition of Gambling Insider.