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POGOs to Remain Shut Along Other Forms of Gambling in the Philippines Under General Community Quarantine Measures

Yesterday, the Malacañang Palace revealed that offshore gambling companies that offer their services on the territory of the Philippines, along with other forms of gambling, are still not permitted to operate in the country, even in areas under the general community quarantine.

Harry Roque, who is a spokesman of the President shared that the online gambling operators in the Philippines (also known as POGOs) are regulated as part of the leisure and amusement category, which is considered non-essential to the country, as it is not associated with the provision of health services or food production.

Mr. Roque explained for the dzBB radio station that, as being part of the amusement and leisure industry, the POGOs are included in the negative list and are to remain closed for the time being, along with the local tourism sector, religious gatherings, schools and the kid industry. He further noted that POGOs can turn to the country’s gambling regulatory body, PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.) but the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, which is the policy-making body on the Philippine Government to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, has still not recommended for such operations to return to normal.

As explained by Mr. Roque, the Government intends to strictly enforce laws against everyone who is not compliant with the measures that had been unveiled as part of the authorities’ efforts to contain the spreading of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

POGOs Remain Controversial Despite Generating Large Revenues for the State

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has announced an extension to the strict self-isolation and quarantine measures that have been imposed on the community in “high-risk” areas like Metro Manila, Albay, Bulacan, Bataan, Catanduanes, CALABARZON, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Occidental Mindoro and Oriental Mindoro. The measures there are set to expire on May 15th.

There are also a number of areas the Philippine Government put under enhanced community quarantine, including Aklan, Antique, Benguet, Cebu, Cebu City, Capiz, Davao City, Davao de Oro, Davao del Norte, Iloilo, Tarlac, Pangasinan and Zambales. However, the Government is set to study whether the restrictions in the aforementioned areas could be relaxed after April 30th.

Other areas of the country were categorized as “moderate” or “low” risk ones, and are currently under general community quarantine. This allows local non-leisure stores in malls to remain operational in certain parts, some other sectors are also allowed to operate, with some workers given the chance to work in phases, and public transportation also operational at reduced capacity.

Philippine online gambling operations, or POGOs, have been subject to controversy for quite a while. On one hand, they have been contributing billions to state coffers, but have also been alleged to have ties with a variety of illegal activities, including tax evasion, money laundering, bribery of immigration personnel, kidnapping, prostitution and human trafficking. A few days ago, 53 individuals from China and the Philippines, were taken into custody for allegedly violating local quarantine measures by participating in POGO operations in Parañaque City. Currently, they are being charged for violation of the Bayanihan Act.

 Author: Harrison Young

Harrison Young is an experienced writer, who started his career almost 8 years ago. Prior to joining our team at CasinoGamesPro, he worked as an editor for a small magazine.