House Committee Approves Bill to Ban POGOs in the Philippines

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The House Committee on Games and Amusements has taken a significant step towards addressing the concerns surrounding Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs). During a recent hearing, the committee approved House Bill 5082, filed by Manila 6th District Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr., which aims to ban POGOs. Additionally, the committee also approved House Resolution 1197, urging the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to take action against POGOs.

Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who introduced the resolution, emphasized the need to evaluate the social cost of POGOs against their economic benefits. He stated that it is evident that POGOs should be discontinued in the Philippines. This sentiment reflects growing concerns about the negative impact associated with POGOs, such as criminal activities and social disruptions.

To address these concerns, Pagcor Chairman Alejandro Tengco informed the committee that POGOs have been renamed as Internet Gaming Licensees (IGLs). Tengco highlighted the positive gains resulting from the reforms implemented within the industry. He assured the committee that alleged criminal activities linked to POGOs have been effectively addressed based on Pagcor’s monitoring from the last quarter of 2023 to January 2024.

In an effort to ensure transparency and accountability, Pagcor declared all licensees to be on probationary status last year. This move required licensees to reapply, allowing Pagcor to identify the industry’s reputable players. As a result, the number of licensees decreased from over 200 in 2019 to approximately 75. Tengco emphasized that Pagcor maintains a vigilant watch over POGOs to prevent any resurgence of criminal activities.

It is important to note that POGOs were initially permitted to operate in the Philippines in 2016. They were allowed to bring in their own workforce, primarily consisting of Chinese employees. At one point, POGOs employed around 300,000 Chinese workers. However, POGOs have since been linked to various criminal activities, including kidnapping, prostitution, money laundering, and human trafficking.

In recent developments, some POGO operators have been shut down due to involvement in crypto-scamming. These cases further highlight the need for stricter regulations and oversight within the industry. The approval of House Bill 5082 and House Resolution 1197 marks a significant step towards addressing these concerns and protecting the welfare of the Filipino people.

As the Philippines navigates the complexities of the POGO industry, it is crucial to strike a balance between economic considerations and the overall well-being of the nation. The actions taken by the House Committee on Games and Amusements demonstrate a commitment to addressing the issues surrounding POGOs and ensuring a safer and more secure environment for all. The international community will be closely watching the developments in the Philippines, as they set an important precedent for other countries facing similar challenges.

In conclusion, the approval of House Bill 5082 and House Resolution 1197 by the House Committee on Games and Amusements represents a significant move towards banning Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs). The decision reflects the growing concerns about the negative impact associated with POGOs, including criminal activities and social disruptions. The Philippines is taking proactive steps to address these concerns and safeguard the interests of its citizens.

Source: The Manila Times

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