Offshore Gambling Operators Are Welcome In The Philippines, For Now

President Rodrigo Duterte told the media last week that he does not plan on banning offshore gambling sites operating from the Philippines despite the request made by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Duterte told the Filipino people that despite his dislike for online gambling and gambling in general, he will not pose a ban on the industry because he believes it would have a negative impact on the Philippines. Offshore operators are known to target China and other Asian countries.

In 2016, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) started issuing Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) licenses to operators in the Philippines. These licenses are issued to operators allowing offshore players to access their site. Due to Philippine gambling laws, PH based operators are not allowed to offer their online services to anyone living in the Philippines.

There are currently 60 POGO licenses that have been issued to operate from the Philippines. These license holders have to pay a significant sum to renew their licenses and undergo vigorous compliance checks to assure the gaming sites are fair. The POGO operators in the Philippines sector currently employs about 130,000 Chinese workers.

Most of the POGO operators target China where online gambling is illegal. President Duterte told media sources that he would not allow this “stupid activity” if jobs and economic benefits would not have stemmed from it.  

Recently the Chinese government pressured Cambodia into relinquishing their online gambling licenses and to crack down on illegal operators. This was a huge win for the Chinese government fighting a gambling crackdown overseas. However, the Philippines will not go down that easy.

Gambling revenue has forever changed the Philippines and now online licensing is creating a booming market for Chinese operators working from the Philippines. President Duterte told POGO license holders to pay their taxes or risk having their license revoked.

While PH operators might not be able to offer their games to Philippine residents, not all options are off the table. PH residents can access Philippine legal online casinos that operate from outside the Philippines.