Yesterday, the head of the Philippines’ Central Bank shared an opinion that suspending online gambling would have little impact on the country’s economy. The statement comes after Chinese authorities’ calls for the Philippine Government to fully ban cross-border activities which according to them bear risks of money laundering and other criminal activities.
Benjamin Diokno, the Governor of the Philippines Central Bank, has previously ordered a study to get more information about the impact that an online gambling ban would have on the country’s economy. As he told Reuters, he would prefer to see such operators out of the country. On a business event held in Singapore, Mr. Diokno commented that gambling undoubtedly had some benefits, especially in terms of tax revenue paid to the Government but there were some risks associated with the activity, too. That was exactly the reason why he would like to see them leave the country.
According to the Philippine Central Bank Governor, the amount contributed by the gambling industry to the country’s economy was estimated only to “a few billion” pesos in tax. He further noted that the impact which the sector had on the real estate business was not quite serious but, on the other hand, the risks associated with money laundering were not so small to be ignored.
The Philippine Government Imposes Stricter Measures on POGOs
Offshore gambling operators, which are currently known in the Philippines as POGOs, have been beneficial for the local economy, as they have been one of the main attractions to foreign visitors. A lot of Chinese residents have also been drawn to Singapore as they have been working in the POGOs, fuelling property demand and retail spending.
For the time being, local gamblers are suspended from playing with the offshore gambling operators, with the latter still contributing to the economy by bringing fresh money flows thanks to their license fees.
Earlier in 2019, the Chinese Government urged the Philippines to suspend online gambling in order to back the serious restrictions it has been imposing on cross-border gambling. According to reports, cross-border gambling activities have been used by people associated with foreign criminal organizations to illegally engage employees and steal or misappropriate funds.
The country’s gambling regulator – PAGCOR – has stopped issuing new licenses to online gambling companies. Local lawmakers, including some Ministers, have urged the authorities to ensure stricter measures to be adopted in terms of Chinese visitors, pointing out that many workers who have been illegally working in the country have actually raised some security concerns with their presence. According to official records, there are about 60 POGOs which are currently operating in the Philippines. Anti-gambling campaigners, however, have been claiming that the actual numbers are quite larger.
Last week, the Bureau of Internal Revenue of the Philippines took measures against a tax-evading online gambling operator for the first time. The Great Empire Gaming and Amusement Corp. (GEGAC) became the first unregistered offshore gambling company that received a closure order by the BIR, as CasinoGamesPro reported.