Philippines Shuts Down 214 Illegal Chinese Gambling Operators

Authorities in the Philippines have shut down 214 illicit Chinese offshore gaming enterprises for failing to pay taxes and royalties, among other infractions. Furthermore, officials said that they had deported the first six of 372 Chinese laborers apprehended as part of a fresh operation.

A spike in crimes targeting Chinese workers at illicit internet gambling enterprises, including claims of kidnappings and sexual assaults, prompted the crackdown and calls to ban even authorized operators in the lucrative industry.

Chinese-owned gambling companies headquartered in the Philippines, known as Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs), began quickly expanding in 2016, producing around 30 billion pesos ($508 million) in gambling income and fees from 2016 to this year, according to regulators. At the peak of online gambling in 2016, it is estimated that more than 250,000 Chinese citizens worked in the country.

The present crackdown is aimed at Chinese operators who have not paid taxes or revenue shares or have violated the law in other ways. According to Justice Assistant Secretary Jose Dominic Clavano, 48,000 predominantly Chinese employees would have their visas revoked and will be forced to leave the Philippines on their own or risk deportation.

Philippines Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, said said:

“All of these illegal POGOs cannot operate in the country and the people who work for them are violating our laws and we should make sure that they leave our country.”

In a statement, China’s embassy in Manila said Beijing supported deportation and a crackdown on POGO-related crimes, adding that the government firmly opposes and takes serious measures to fight gambling.

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