Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte says he is open to implementing further regulation of the nation’s online gaming industry but has reiterated his stance that Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) will not be banned under his watch.
A day after Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte would not stop POGOs due to the economic benefit they provide, Duterte himself fronted the media for a press conference in Malacañang at which he doubled down on his support. He did, however, suggest that further tightening of regulations could be a reasonable solution to concerns aired by some senators recently over alleged criminal activities within the industry.
“I want it legalized,” Durerte said. “If they can pass a law about POGO, fine, go ahead. Supervise it by law.
“We are not justifying it. We are just saying that it is allowed because we need the funds.”
Duterte also rejected calls to ban some Chinese nationals working in the POGO industry from entering the country following allegations from some political quarters that the industry could be a cover for Chinese spies.
“We cannot bar Chinese nationals from entering the country because they allow us to enter China also and even work in Hong Kong,” he said.
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.
According to official numbers, there are 60 licensed POGOs in the Philippines under which 218 service providers are currently operating.