Gaming regulator says 'no national threat' over POGOs

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 15 2019 10:57 AM | Updated as of Aug 15 2019 11:27 AM

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MANILA -- The wave of Chinese workers in offshore gambling firms don't threaten the Philippines' national security, the Southeast Asian nation's gaming regulator said Thursday.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon earlier said undocumented foreign workers should be considered as "threats" while the Philippine Navy raised concern over plans to build POGO hubs in 3 strategically located islands.

"I think there is really no national threat because these are ordinary workers much like our OFWs in China or everywhere else," Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp Chairperson Andrea Domingo told ANC's Headstart.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila last week urged the Philippine government to "punish" those behind the alleged illegal recruitment of Chinese nationals to POGOs or Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations.

It also raised concern that the establishment of POGO hubs would "infringe on the basic legal rights" of the Chinese.

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Domingo defended the POGO hubs, saying these would serve as "one-stop shops" for government transactions.

"We want them in one place where they can live comfortably and safely but there is no confiscation of passports, there is no limitation on exit and entry into the POGOs or whatever they want to do within legal limits," she said.

POGOs generated P11.2 billion in revenues for PAGCOR over 2 years and for 2019 alone, the gaming firms could deliver up to P8 billion, she said.

Domingo said she would "probably" propose to the PAGCOR board to "limit" the addition of new POGOs to just 2, capping the number of operational firms at 60.