Raids on more than 170 unlicensed online gaming operations since last year have been the centrepiece of a crackdown by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) it says.
Pagcor, the casino regulator in the Philippines, said the targeted unlicensed operations had broken relevant rules, and that workers in such enterprises faced prosecution and deportation if they were foreigners.
A statement from Pagcor estimated that 60 percent of the staff of such online gaming operations were foreigners, with the remaining 40 percent Filipinos.
A commentary from Pagcor chairman Andrea Domingo did not specify the number of overseas nationals apprehended in the raids. But the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted an “industry insider” as saying hundreds of Chinese had been detained. An estimated 100,000 Chinese worked in the targeted online gaming operations in the Philippines because the sector dealt mainly with Chinese gamblers and so required proficiency in Mandarin, the newspaper reported.
“Legalise your operations or face dire consequences,” Ms Domingo was quoted as saying in her statement.
Pagcor had mounted the raids in cooperation with detectives of the National Bureau of Investigation, officers of the Philippine National Police and agents of the Bureau of Immigration. The effort was part of what Pagcor says is a concerted drive against illegal online gaming.
Ms Domingo stated Pagcor also monitored and audited the authorised holders of what are known as Philippine offshore gaming operation (POGO) licences, with a view to ensuring that they pay the government what it is due and obey all other national and local laws. POGO licensees are electronic casinos and generally comply with Pagcor rules and local government regulations, according to Ms Domingo’s statement.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer said Pagcor had capped the number of POGO licensees at 45 last year.
The news outlet’s report, posted online, said the POGO licensees were expected generate PHP6 billion (about US$110.64 million) for the government this year.
Illegal online gaming operations, in search of a share of the huge amount of money to be made from such business, had sprung up in premises in exclusive housing developments or in residential condominiums, according to the media reports on the topic.
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