Authorities in the Philippines have launched a crackdown on Chinese firms running illegal offshore gambling operations. This calls to ban these activities mount due to their alleged links to criminal syndicates.

The chief of the gaming regulator stated that 250 to 300 offshore gambling firms are operating illegally in the Philippines. This number is about six times more than the 46 legitimate gaming operators in the country.
Chairman of state regulator PAGCOR or Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp told Reuters in a phone interview, Alejandro Tengco said that together with the police, they search for these illegal operators, conduct raids, and shut them down.
In 2016, the online gaming industry come out in the Philippines. It grew exponentially as operators capitalized on the liberal gaming laws in the country to target customers in China, where gambling is banned.
Philippine offshore gambling operators or POGOs totaled 300 and employed more than 300,000 Chinese workers at their peak. However, Tengco said the pandemic and tighter tax rules have forced many to relocate or go underground.
Reports of POGO-related crimes, including human trafficking, torture, kidnapping, credit card scams, crypto investment scams, and love scams, triggered the crackdown. This is when criminal adopt fake online identities to persuade victims to give them money.
Law enforces raided a POGO facility in Pampanga province in March. This led to the rescue of more than 800 workers. Local media reported it includes Filipino and Chinese nationals.
Security officials have expressed concern over illegal POGOs. The defense minister says criminal syndicates posing as POGOs were a national security concern. This is while the national security council said these illegal activities must not be tolerated.
Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro said in a statement that the concern is that they should stop these syndicated criminal activities operating out of their base, which weaken their financial standing, their country ratings and corrupt their society.
Tengco of PAGCOR said the gaming regulator would comply with the government’s final decision on POGOs. This might include banning the industry altogether.
Tengco also stated that the government expects to generate 24.5 billion pesos or $417 million this year from POGO fees and taxes. There are 46 licensed POGOs, half of which are Chinese firms.