PAGCOR Warns Against Banning Internet Gaming Licensees

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has expressed concerns over outlawing Internet Gaming Licensees (IGLs), formerly known as Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs). PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Alejandro H. Tengco emphasized that such a ban could exacerbate existing problems by pushing legitimate operators underground.

“If this happens, it would become harder for us to monitor them, and the number of illegal operators would grow and pose a bigger headache to our law enforcement authorities,” Tengco stated. He added that banning these operators could lead to a loss of over Php20 billion in annual government revenue without guaranteeing the cessation of illegal activities.

Potential Consequences of a Ban

Tengco noted that legitimate operators, when banned, might not cease operations. Instead, they could continue their activities clandestinely, making it difficult for the government to supervise and regulate them. “We have no guarantee that, once we ban the legitimate operators, they will simply close shop and return to their countries of origin where they are likely to face prosecution and jail, or worse,” he explained.

The shift to underground operations could lead these operators to engage in more serious illegal activities. “They could join those who are engaged in illegal activities like scamming, hacking, and other cybercrimes, which would cause bigger problems to us,” Tengco warned. Once underground, monitoring and controlling these operators becomes nearly impossible.

PAGCOR’s Stance on Legislative Decisions

Despite these concerns, PAGCOR will respect whatever decision Congress makes regarding the issue. “It is the prerogative of our lawmakers to outlaw IGLs if they believe it will solve our problems,” Tengco stated. However, he highlighted that the real issue lies with criminal syndicates posing as legitimate operators.

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“For us, the real problem are the criminal syndicates masquerading as POGOs. It is only through intensified law enforcement and the cooperation of all sectors that we would be able to address the problem of criminality,” Tengco concluded.

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