Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has rejected calls for the nation’s online gaming industry to be shut down due to the economic benefit they provide.
Duterte’s rebuke comes after a challenging week for the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) industry in which it faced accusations of being a cover for Chinese spies and a movement by some senators to have POGOs declared illegal.
Addressing the issue at a weekend press conference, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte “will not suspend it nor will stop it. He told me yesterday that he received a good report from PAGCOR. He said the report was good, so he’s okay with POGO operations.”
As previously reported by Inside Asian Gaming, PAGCOR chair Andrea Domingo recently revealed it expects to triple its income from POGOs in 2020 to around Php18 billion (US$354 million), up from Php5.74 billion (US$113 million) in 2019.
Panelo told local media on Sunday that those funds could be used for a variety of important projects, including the fight against the outbreak of COVID-19.
“We really need the funds from the collections from POGOs. We need funds for our projects,” Panelo said, adding that stricter rules and regulations were a better solution that banning POGOs altogether.
“The problems linked to POGO operations can be solved. All you have to do is to implement, establish rules and regulations.”
According to official numbers, there are 60 licensed POGOs in the Philippines under which 218 service providers are currently operating.