Members of a Philippine Senate committee have criticized the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), the nation’s gaming regulator, for the absence of oversight over the activities of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs). Representatives of Pagcor admitted that the regulator is unable to track the precise locations of specific gamblers during a Wednesday hearing on POGOs before the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
According to a Pagcor representative quoted by the Philippine Inquirer, the independent auditor Pagcor hired can only infer which nations use POGO’s gambling services by “looking at the currencies being used.” However, the player went on to say, players can choose what currency they want to play in no matter where they are, so the currency does not dictate the country of origin.
The U.S. dollar came in second place, with the Chinese renminbi accounting for 47% of the currency used for such transactions, according to information presented during the hearing.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian Gatchalian expressed dissatisfaction with Pagcor’s oversight of the POGO sector. He cited China as an example and questioned whether the regulator had looked into the revenue risks that could result from a certain country’s policies for Pagcor.
Mr. Gatchalian advised that “you should research the risk that can affect your business.” China has been talking about blacklisting locations that try to lure its citizens into participating in either land-based or online gambling since at least 2020, and even before that, it had expressed concern about POGOs. The Philippine government claims that recently, they have increased their efforts to stop illegal online gaming in the nation.
An official from the National Economic and Development Authority of the Philippines’ Policy and Planning Group claimed in October that banning POGOs might eventually help the nation’s tourism industry.
Mr. Gatchalian demanded on Wednesday that Pagcor’s role as a gaming operator be distinguished from its role as a gaming regulator. He asserted that there was a conflict of interest in Pagcor’s duties and that it pertained to both the regulation of the nation’s land-based casino industry and the POGO market. The idea that Pagcor’s gaming operator function should be separated from its gaming regulatory duty should be “given time to study,” according to Alejandro Tengco, the organization’s new chairman and chief executive, who expressed this hope in August.