China Blacklists the Philippines for Their Online Gambling Policies

Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian told PH Senate President Juan Miguel that China had placed the Philippines on its overseas gambling blacklist. The move to blacklist the Philippines will put travel restrictions on destinations Chinese nationals can visit for gambling-related activities. 

The information was passed along to the Senate President on October 10th via a courtesy call and then relayed to the public during a Senate inquiry into the Philippine Offshore Gambling Operators (POGO) license debate. 

China’s Stance On Gambling

China is known for its anti-gambling policies and has outspokenly called on the Philippines to crack down and make all online gambling operations illegal. Former President Rodrigo Duterte ignored China’s request to abolish POGO license holders and insisted that the revenue was significant for the country in the post-pandemic era.

China has also claimed that POGO operators (mainly from China’s mainland) are responsible for numerous Philippines-related crimes, most notably human trafficking. 

President Marcos Cracks Down

While former President Rodrigo Duterte was not a fan of letting China bully its policies onto the Filipino people, new President Ferdinand “BongBong” Marcos seems to comply with China’s wishes. 

Since taking office, the Marcos administration has started cracking down on POGO license holders and has recently deported several hundred Chinese POGO workers. The Marcos administration has also told finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno that it needs to halt POGO operations due to its “social cost” and “reputational risk.” 

The main problem with removing the POGO program is its revenue for the Philippines. Before the 2019 COVID pandemic, POGOs contributed P551 billion in yearly revenue. 

Is Online Gambling Still Legal In The Philippines?

Philippine gambling laws allow Filipino residents and visitors to gamble online with offshore wagering sites. Philippines online gambling sites that operate legally all operate from outside of the country. The government has yet to enact new laws against offshore gambling sites offering their services to the Philippines. 

Recently the Philippine gambling regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR)has started issuing POGO licenses for PH gambling operators to offer their services online; however, those operators are not allowed to provide their services to Filipino residents.