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Philippine POGOs challenged

By Violeta Prockyte

Several Philippine lawmakers filed an Anti-Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO) Act in order to ban offshore gaming operators. The Act is set to make the offshore casinos illegal regardless of how they could be accessed.

Bienvenido Abante Jr, House Minority Leader, presented the Act as a way for the Philippines to battle corruption. The proposed Act states that POGOs could be seen as a danger to society. “It has made a mockery of our anti-money laundering, immigration and tax laws,” he said. “It has been a source of untold criminal offenses and heinous crimes related to the conduct of such operations.”

If the Act is approved and passes, it will ban the possession of any gaming paraphernalia and forbids the creation of POGO hubs or gaming labs. All foreign-based operators, POGOs, local gaming agents, and even service providers would lose their licenses.

The Act was proposed after POGOs were allowed to resume partial operations as a way to increase government revenue with COVID-19 lockdown still in place. POGOs have to meet strict requirements in order to be allowed to resume work. It includes paying various fees or any outstanding penalties.

Additional safety measures include driving employees to and from work, keeping only a third of the staff on-site during a shift, and body temperature checks. Chairman and CEO of gaming regulator PAGCOR Andrea Domingo stated, “Even with the partial resumption of POGO operations, we will put premium on the safety of their employees, and the gaming industry as a whole.”

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