Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said he has received information that 46 out of the 58 POGOs licensed by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) are unregistered local or foreign corporations.
AFP/File
Lawmaker seeks probe of illegal POGOs
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - September 23, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The chairman of the House of Representatives committee on dangerous drugs yesterday called for an inquiry into what he described as “colorum” Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators or POGOs doing business in the country.

Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said these illegal POGOs “may undermine the administration’s anti-money laundering and the campaign against drugs and crimes.”

Barbers said he has received information that 46 out of the 58 POGOs licensed by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) are unregistered local or foreign corporations.

“They have no legal personality because their names are not found in the business/company registry in the Philippines or abroad. They are bogus or ghost,” he said.

He pointed out that like mafia and drug rings, illegal POGOs are used to launder funds earned from illicit activities.

“A close scrutiny of these gaming operators could possibly uncover their links to illegal drugs and organized crimes. However, this requires a deep, profound and perhaps long and tedious investigation,” Barbers said.

He said the Pagcor should not only think of the financial gain the government may derive from offshore gaming.

The senator said the state-owned gaming firm should be more prudent and diligent in licensing POGO applicants.

Barbers called for legislation to prevent offshore gaming companies from making the Philippines a haven for money laundering and other illegal activities.

He also urged the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, National Bureau of Investigation and Philippine National Police to look into the personalities behind illegal offshore gaming.  

An infrastructure-oriented think tank called on the Pagcor to cancel plans of setting up POGO hubs amid reports of cryptocurrency fraud and human trafficking tied to the country’s burgeoning offshore gaming industry.

Terry Ridon, Infrawatch Philippine convenor, said the recent string of raids on fraudulent Chinese crypto firms and human trafficking rackets should prompt Pagcor to implement its proposal to establish POGO hubs in the country. - Paolo Romero

DANGEROUS DRUGS POGOS
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