The past months have seen numerous arrests and news on various platforms and media about how illegal POGOs have spiked criminality in the country. These range from kidnapping, forced labor, human trafficking, illegal gambling, money laundering and illegal immigration. The victims of these crimes are also mostly Chinese nationals and other citizens of Southeast Asian countries.
There has been a strong public opinion on these matters and the perception has built a wrong impression of legal “Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators” or POGOs. This is when PAGCOR decided to step in on the 29th of September, 2022 to clarify and reiterate the details between illegal POGOs and legal POGOs.
Alejandro Tengco, Chairman and Chief Executive of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) clarified that the recent arrests of Chinese nationals and other foreign nationals in the Philippines that had been involved in illegal online gaming, “are not in any way related to legitimate” Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs).
He further added that the state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) “that any individual, group or entity” that conducts online gambling without PAGCOR’s approval and authorization “should NOT be categorized as POGO”.
How legitimate POGOs are
The legitimate POGOs who operate within the Philippines are “strictly monitored” by PAGCOR. “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,” he added as he further emphasized the importance of news media to have clear communication and context on legitimate POGOs.
The online gaming industry in the Philippines has seen staggering growth ever since the pandemic hit in 2020. There was nearly a 50% increase in revenue compared to historical data. This rise in the interest in online gaming is also important in how PAGCOR has been wanting to establish legitimate POGOs that are under their supervision and regulation.
Such potential revenue is also evident in statistics and studies that currently every Filipino spends 91 minutes on online games. This includes video games, mobile games and online gambling.
PAGCOR is aware of how the POGOs can be potentially major tax contributors with the expected revenue in 2022 to reach a gargantuan USD 2,323.06 million. PAGCOR also strictly carries out the 21-year age requirement for all legitimate POGOs to make sure participants are adults and capable of accountability of their actions.
Mr. Tengco assures everyone that PAGCOR closely coordinates with various governmental departments “to effectively determine any illegal offshore gaming operations in the country and thwart kidnapping and human trafficking incidents”.
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Legitimate POGO stats and potential earning capability
PAGCOR currently has 34 approved POGOs and 127 accredited service providers that have undergone stringent security checks. The government agency is also working hard to achieve an optimistic future in Filipino online casinos. Eventually, every online gaming entity will have terms and conditions of use that measurably prevent addiction.
PAGCOR would like to see players can limit spending and activity by suspending their accounts for a few hours. Once these features are in place, the gaming industry in the Philippines will have further increased revenue generation and positive competition.
In my humble opinion, PAGCOR should be more active in securing the usage of POGOs in a positive light. There has been strong negative publicity about POGOs and this has driven potential markets away from online gaming as well as impinged on an otherwise fun and legal way to generate income for everyone. Is there a need to create another name for legal POGOs or — better yet, illegal POGOs? Any thoughts dear readers? Just lay them down in the comments and we’ll gladly note them, too.