PAGCOR cracks down on rogue gaming firms

Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - October 1, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), the gaming regulator, has initiated a crackdown against rogue online gaming firms amid the unprecedented success of the offshore gaming business in the country.

PAGCOR is looking into those found to be violating the agency’s offshore gaming rules to get rid of bogus entities.

Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) or offshore gaming is conducted via the internet using a network and software offered exclusively to offshore authorized players who have registered and established an online gaming account with the Philippine licensee.

Only foreigners based in another country are authorized to play while foreign nationals in the Philippines and Filipinos residing abroad are not allowed to take part in the online gaming activity, according to the POGO rules.

PAGCOR chairperson Andrea Domingo said the agency has now been conducting regular raids on POGO to weed out those without licenses or those found in violation of the rules.

Moving forward, Domingo said PAGCOR ’s third-party audit platform would also soon be fully functional to strengthen revenue collection and ensure fairness in the operations of its POGO licensees.

The third-party audit platform would ensure that POGO licensees conduct their operations as prescribed by the regulatory framework.

Furthermore, it also ensures that only licensed and approved casino based gaming platforms are offered to players, and that betting on prohibited platforms like collegiate games, illegal cockfights, prices of traded stocks are not undertaken by licensees.

Accordingly, sanctions and administrative penalties shall be imposed against erring firms.

“Regulation includes protection of the bets of the player, and we do this as a matter of course,” Domingo said.

PAGCOR conducts the regular and investigations in cooperation with various law enforcement agencies.

For the past year and the first semester of 2018, for instance, PAGCOR and law enforcement bodies have already conducted raids in over 170  establishments certified by PAGCOR to be operating without an issued license.

Personalities apprehended for operating without a gaming license will either face charges in court or deported.

PAGCOR earlier entered into a mutual cooperation agreement with the National Bureau of Investigation the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Immigration for a concerted drive against illegal online gambling.

Aside from conducting raids against erring firms, PAGCOR is also regularly monitoring and auditing the operation of POGO licensees. There are now around 50 licenses.

“This is to ensure that they remit to government its proper revenue share and that they adhere to all municipal, national and labor laws,” Domingo said.

Domingo estimates that four out of every 10 workers in online gaming firms in the Philippines are Filipinos.

These workers consist of high-paying IT and technical support staff, dealers, administrative staff, drivers, cooks, maintenance personnel and others.

Regular audits of Pogo gaming hubs have shown substantial compliance to Pagcor rules and compliance with local government requirements on health and sanitation, fire safety, occupational permits and others, Domingo said.

Through its Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Department, PAGCOR ensures that POGO licensees operate within the bounds and limits of their offshore gaming licenses, and mandates the department to monitor and report possible violations labor laws.

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