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Philippines’ Pasig City forbids online gambling

December 29, 2022 Philippines Crime & Legal

The Philippines’ Pasig City is going above and beyond in its efforts to advance “moral wellness.” On Tuesday, the government of that country stated that it would no longer provide licenses to online gambling businesses, and those who already have them would have to leave.

The modification follows a spate of negative press over the nation’s legalization of internet gambling. The Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) market and e-sabong in particular have cast a shadow of doubt over the whole gaming sector.

POGOs and e-sabong, which involved cockfight betting, weren’t always bad. However, a small number of dishonest people’s actions caused a lot of harm, and Pasig City is now making the entire sector pay for it.

Not Morally Admissible
The city’s future policy on internet gambling is governed by Ordinance 55. It covers all aspects of internet gaming, including POGOs, online casinos, e-sabong, e-bingo, online poker, and everything else.

The new regulation was passed by the municipal council on December 15 and is effective right now. Within a year, any operator engaged in any of the online activities that the ordinance regulates must stop. The new law also covers companies that offer services to the iGaming sector. The POGO ecosystem initially brought the Philippines several benefits, including income. As, when the government attempted to increase the taxes this sector had to pay, many operators changed from abiding by the rules to managing their businesses however they could. This occasionally involved torture, kidnappings, and slave labor.

E-sabong was drawn from sabong, a long-standing legal practice in the Philippines, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Online betting platforms emerged to fill the gap left by the lack of options for wagering at live events.

E-sabong came under fire when media sources started reporting that some people were pawning their infants to settle gambling debts. In one instance, a 22-year-old mother sold her infant to pay off a $858 debt. She called Pasig City home.

As a result, Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto, who was just reelected, thinks that legal gaming is not appropriate in his city. The goal of the mandate is to “defend the community’s social and moral welfare.”

Anyone who disobeys the new regulation might be sentenced to up to a year in jail as well as a fine of PHP5,000 (US$89.60).

Government Coffers Will Be Impacted
It is debatable whether his ultimatum leads to the outcome he anticipates. The black market is a risky environment for gamblers, and there is already ample proof from around the world that gambling doesn’t stop just because it is prohibited.

The fourth-richest city in the greater Manila area is Pasig City. However, Ordinance 55 will soon cause it to lose part of its financial resources. Sotto estimates that the restriction will run up annual expenses for the government of about PHP3 million (US$53,790).

The direct economic effects are covered, however there might be further consequences. A decrease in employment due to the loss of the sector could further harm the city’s finances. Sotto argued that the losses are a “very tiny price to pay for the city.”

Something that other lawmakers wish to see implemented nationally is being done in Pasig City. There is presently a drive to outlaw all online gambling in the nation, but that will require a lot more effort.

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