Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has rejected China’s calls to ban online gambling operations.
Addressing the Philippines in a televised press conference on Wednesday, Duterte revealed that he had opted not to vow to pressure from Beijing following a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping last Friday, stating the financial impact on the nation would be too great.
“We decide to benefit the interest of my country. I decide that we need it,” Duterte said, adding that banning the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) scheme would cost too many jobs.
China’s issue with the POGO industry emerged in early August when the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines released a statement expressing its concerns over the proposed transfer of Chinese workers employed by POGOs to self-contained hubs and warning against the illegal inducement of Chinese citizens to gamble either online or in Philippines land-based casinos.
Gaming regulator PAGCOR responded by placing a moratorium on the issuance of new gaming licenses while it addressed such concerns, however Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang then upped the ante, stating, “We hope the Philippines will go further and ban all online gambling” and describing online gambling as “the most dangerous tumor in modern society detested by people all across the world.”
Despite those comments and the issue being briefly discussed during last week’s meeting with President Xi, Duterte has confirmed the nation’s POGO industry will continue.
PAGCOR has stated it expects to receive around Php8 billion in revenue from POGO operators in 2019, up from Php7.37 billion last year.