Arrests for Illegal Gambling Not Tied to POGO, Claims PAGCOR

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, PAGCOR, released a new statement in light of the recently reported rise in crimes believed to be related to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO).

Operators without License Aren’t Automatically POGO

PAGCOR’s statement was released on Thursday and points out that the recent arrests of Chinese and foreign nationals that were reportedly involved in illegal gambling activity are not related to POGOs. Additionally, PAGCOR stressed that individuals, groups, or other entities that opera ufa365 te without a license or approval from PAGCOR cannot be categorized right away as POGO. 

“The agency emphasizes that any individual, group or entity which conducts online gambling without approval to operate from PAGCOR should not be categorized as POGO,” 

reads a statement released by PAGCOR

Currently, 34 POGO operators are approved by PAGCOR, as well as 127 accredited service providers and five classified as a special class of business process outsourcing. The number of current POGO operators is down when compared to the 63 POGO operators that were operational back in 2019. 

PAGCOR Continues to Scrutinize POGOs

Regardless of what the current number of POGO operations are, according to Alejandro Tengco, PAGCOR’s CEO and chairman, all such operations are being scrutinized by the agency. Still, he pointed out that gaming operators that cannot pass the application process for an offshore operator cannot be immediately classified as POGO or legal offshore operators. 

Tengco acknowledged that PAGCOR continues to collaborate with local law enforcement such as the Department of Justice, the Philippine National Police, the Department of Interior and Local Government, as well as the National Bureau of Investigation. Ultimately, according to him, the collaboration seeks to identify any illegal offshore gambling operators and prevent crimes such as human trafficking and kidnapping.

Kidnappings Related to POGO on the Rise

It is believed that POGO operations resulted in an increase in crimes, especially cases related to kidnapping. Earlier this week, data released by the Philippine National Police supported those claims by pointing out that kidnapping cases have grown year over year. For the first nine months of the year, there have been reported 31 cases of kidnapping, based on PNP’s data. From that total, 17 were related to POGO operations. In contrast, for the whole of last year, there were a total of 36 kidnapping cases and only 12 were tied to POGO operations.

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At the time the PNP released the data, Tengco acknowledged that the ongoing crime wave may have dire consequences. He warned that if kidnappings or other crimes continue, government officials may decide to completely shut down POGO operators.