PAGCOR chief pushes POGO regulation instead of total ban

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
PAGCOR chief pushes POGO regulation instead of total ban
This undated photo shows of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) building in Manila.
Jay Directo / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — Stressing that there is no problem with those that have existing licenses, the head of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) yesterday urged officials to thoroughly study proposals that would totally ban Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO).

In an interview with “Storycon” on One News, PAGCOR chief executive officer and chairman Alejandro Tengco said they will abide by whatever President Marcos or Congress decides on POGOs.

But he maintained that those that were recently raided by the government do not have licenses from PAGCOR.

“They do not have licenses and they operate illegally… They are basically criminal syndicates involved in criminal activities like scamming operations,” he said.

Tengco said there would be no problem if the gaming operators are properly regulated, citing their experience with the existing internet gaming licensees or IGLs.

“If we outlaw this, they will continue with the illegal operations and we will not be able to collect even just a peso,” he said. “If they are properly monitored and regulated, there are regular visitations – about three or four times a week, randomly – I think they will follow the rules.”

From about 300 POGOs before they assumed office in 2022, Tengco said only 46 were given licenses. Only 43 of the 46 are currently operating.

The rest, he said, either did not apply or were not given licenses following the review that they conducted.

Tengco, during the interview, also revealed that the POGO hub raided in Porac, Pampanga never secured a license from PAGCOR.

“Porac did not have a license from Day 1. We did not know of their existence,” he said, noting that the company that operates it – Lucky South –previously had license but “was not located in the same complex that was raided recently.”

Meanwhile, the non-renewed license of the POGO hub in Bamban, Tarlac was only for a building located “in the left side portion of the property,” said Tengco.

The PAGCOR chief said they regularly furnish law enforcement and other government agencies of the list of POGOs whose licenses were not renewed.

“PAGCOR does not have any police power,” he said when asked if PAGCOR should be the one to ensure that those without licenses are no longer operating.

Tengco also expressed support to proposals to amend PAGCOR’s mandate.

“I totally agree with that. I have been espousing and supporting that… PAGCOR is wearing two hats at the moment,” he said, noting that the agency both functions as a regulator and operator of casinos through the Casino Filipino brand. – Emmanuel Tupas, Michael Punongbayan, Daphne Galvez, Marc Jayson Cayabyab

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