Philippines gaming regulator PAGCOR has issued a statement in response to recent reports of illegal online gaming operations being shut down, insisting those involved are not linked to legitimate Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs).
This follows increased media scrutiny on the industry and calls from some Philippine politicians to shut the industry down due to such activities, which has seen hundreds of kidnapped Chinese and Southeast Asian nationals rescued from kidnapping by illegal operators in recent weeks.
PAGCOR’s statement reads:
“In light of the arrest of Chinese and other foreign nationals reportedly involved in illegal online gaming recently, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) would like to clarify that the activities of said individuals are not in any way related to legitimate Philippine Offshore Gaming Operaters (POGO).
“The agency emphasizes that any individual, group or entity which conducts online gambling without approval to operate from PAGCOR should not be categorized as POGO.
“PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco said that POGO operations are strictly being monitored by the agency, and any gaming entity that fails to pass the application process for an offshore gaming license and to fulfill the documentary and financial requirements, among others, cannot be labeled as legal offshore gaming operators or POGO.
“Tengco added that PAGCOR is in close coordination with various agencies such as the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Justice (DOJ), Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to effectively determine any illegal offshore gaming operations in the country and thwart kidnapping and human trafficking incidents.”
PAGCOR said it currently has 34 approved POGO operators – down from a peak of 63 in 2019 – plus 127 accredited service providers and five special class of BPOs which have all undergone probity checks.
Personnel of Customer Relations Service Providers, Gaming Software Platform Providers and Live Studio and Streaming Providers are required to secure offshore gaming employment licenses and have been ordered to obtain police clearances under stricter rules recently implemented.