The Philippine National Police (PNP) arrested approximately 41,000 individuals in 50,000 police operations targeting “illegal” gambling so far in 2023.
The figures were reported on Tuesday by the Philippine News Agency, an official outlet, citing Police General Benjamin Acorda, chief of the PNP.
Particular mention was made regarding effort against unauthorised forms of online gambling.
The Philippines does permit some forms of remote gambling, with the most publicised examples being via Philippines Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) licences; and Philippines Inland Gaming Operator (PIGO) licences. The country’s authorities have however recently warned POGOs against involvement in illegal activity.
The Philippines has also cancelled the permissions for a number of POGO operators for reported breaches of their permits, either linked to tax liability or allegations of criminal activity.
General Acorda was cited in his comments as mentioning a particular target of the PNP’s current crackdown was cockfighting contests presented online and known locally as “E-Sabong”.
Licensing for such activity was terminated in May 2022, at the end of Rodrigo Duterte’s term as the country’s president.
General Acorda said what he termed his force’s “cyber patrolling” was “continuous”, coordinated by its Anti-Cybercrime Group.
But he noted that the force continued to “encounter some problems in enforcement”.
He stated: “For instance, our laws do not mention anything about online betting. Even if we conduct operations, the betting is done online so we do not have anything to present before the courts.”
Though he added: “We are trying our best to take down these websites in coordination with other agencies,” to address this problem.
According to Tuesday’s report, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) – which comes under the Office of the President – is working with the PNP on the crackdown.
The PCSO raises money for national medical programmes by running charity sweepstakes, races, and lotteries.
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