A Philippine lawmaker says public opinion on Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) would be an important factor when he and colleagues draft a Senate committee report on the economic and social effects of that type of online gambling business.
His remarks were reported on Thursday by the official Philippine News Agency, and other media outlets.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian cited the results of a survey by Pulse Asia Research Inc, a Philippine polling organisation.
He stated that a survey Pulse Asia conducted from November 27 to December 1 last year, indicated that 58 percent of the 1,200 respondents thought the operation of POGOs was harmful to society. The licensees offer online gambling services that are mandated to target overseas customers, rather than domestic ones.
Among those replying to the poll, 67 percent cited concern about the trade stimulating vice; 57 percent mentioned alleged POGO-related crime incidents involving Chinese nationals; 43 percent identified disquiet about allegations of tax evasion by POGOs; 33 percent perceived the sector did not provide fresh economic opportunities for Fiipinos; and 22 percent mentioned the trade having an inflationary effect on rents, and costs of residential or business properties.
Only 19 percent of all respondents identified POGOs as being beneficial for the Philippines.
The Senate Committee on Ways and Means is currently working on a report examining the economic benefits versus social costs of allowing POGO operations in the country.
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp, the regulator of POGOs and of land-based casino business in that nation, had issued a Tuesday press statement in response to earlier reported comments of lawmaker attacks on POGOs.
The regulator stated: “The offshore gaming industry has only been in existence in the Philippines under Pagcor over the last five years.”
It added: “Aside from the taxes to the national and local governments, it currently employs an estimated 25,000 Filipinos and contributes billions of pesos to the local economy through real estate activities, consumption and indirect employment.”
The statement also said: “It is Pagcor’s aim to nurture this industry as it believes it has much more to contribute to the Philippine economy and nation building.”
Members of the Philippine Senate committee had previously criticised Pagcor for what they said was a lack of oversight regarding the operations of POGOs.
The Philippine authorities say they have stepped up efforts to prevent illegal online gaming activities in the country.
In October, an official from the Policy and Planning Group at the National Economic and Development Authority of the Philippines said banning POGOs could eventually benefit the country’s tourism sector.
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