Philippines gaming regulator PAGCOR says it welcomes the news that authorities had arrested 76 people working for an illegal Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) last week and supports calls for stronger vetting of the industry.
POGOs have been a topic of considerable debate in the Philippines, with several lawmakers filing an Anti-POGO Act in a bid to have them declared illegal after PAGCOR earlier granted permission for operators to resume partial operations.
On Wednesday, officers from the National Capital Region Police Office revealed they had discovered a POGO operating without a license and flouting enhanced community quarantine measures in Makati City, and arrested 63 Chinese and 13 Filipino workers.
In a statement, PAGCOR said it “denounces all forms of illegal gambling in the country – whether it is land-based or online. Hence, we welcome this recent move by authorities to apprehend illegal online gaming operators or what we now officially call NOGOs.”
However, PAGCOR also defended its role in the operation of POGOs, noting that it has no police powers of its own and instead pointing to an interagency taskforce established in March 2019 as a vital weapon in combatting illegal operators.
“Because of the limitations of its charter, PAGCOR has no police powers. Hence, it could not arrest or prosecute illegal gambling operations,” it said.
“What it can do within the bounds of its charter is to regulate gaming entities, and ensure that revenues from such operations will be used for the benefit of the country.
“PAGCOR gives its full cooperation to the members of the Task Force by validating licenses, and providing business, tax and other information on record. It also provides financial grants to these agencies to boost their law enforcement capacities.”