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Pagcor issues warning over illegal gambling websites

| By Robert Fletcher
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) has again warned players over the dangers of unlicensed operators after identifying a number of illegal websites posing as approved sites.
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Pagcor says an increasing number of unlicensed sites are using the Pagcor logo without the regulator’s permission to mislead players. Only operators with licences from Pagcor can feature the logo on their site.

As such, Pagcor chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco is advising players to exercise caution when gambling online, urging them to check the regulator’s list of approved websites.

Tengco also revealed Pagcor has enlisted the help of the Philippine National Police, the Department of Information and Communication Technology and the National Bureau of Investigation to monitor and take actions against the illegal sites.

“We have been able to shut down most of these illicit websites,” Tengco said. “However, some of them are able to immediately create new ones. We really need the public’s cooperation and vigilance to help us weed out these scammers.

Tengco also said work continues with law enforcement agencies and payment providers over possible payment blocking on these websites. 

“We will also continue to follow up on illegal sites that have not been blocked or taken down,” Tengco said. “Another option is to create a landing site to redirect bettors to a website that will warn them about illegal sites that they are accessing.”

Pagcor’s ongoing efforts to tackle illegal gambling

This is not the first time Pagcor has warned the public about unlicensed sites. In June, the regulator flagged an illegal website based in the US.

Media reports suggested Starspangled200.org was being used by fraudsters as a link to an illegal gambling site operating in the Philippines.

The website address was printed on almost 800,000 registered vehicle plates in Maryland to promote the US state’s history. However, the URL redirects to Globeinternational.info, a site that has been used to illegally offer gambling.

This was just one of the steps Pagcor has taken to clamp down on illegal gambling in recent months. The regulator has been working with other government and law enforcement agencies to set up offices inside an accredited hub. 

Meanwhile, operators now face increased inspection of compliance, as well as the need to submit reports to enforcement agencies for further investigation. In addition, Pagcor pledged to issue heavy penalties to operators that do not comply with regulations.

Changing face of offshore gambling in the Philippines

In August Pagcor also set out a new regulatory framework for offshore gaming licensees. This came into effect in July and forms part of inter-agency efforts to tackle illegal offshore activities in the country. 

Licensees and service providers are now being declared probationary. They must re-apply for approval from Pagcor to continue operating in the country before a cut-off date of 17 September. 

Operators and providers that have been operating illegally will not be considered for a new licence.

Also last month, Pagcor said it is taking legal action against 33 offshore gambling licensees over unpaid PHP2.02bn (£28.4m/€33.2m/$35.6m) in licence fees.

The regulator has alleged that the operators, which were given licences during the previous administration, have not paid their licence fees for more than a year.

Pagcor chair caught up in missing performance bond case

Against this background, news also broke last week of Tengco becoming embroiled in a case related to a missing performance bond in July 2022.

Local media reports are linking Tengco and other current and former Pagcor personnel to the alleged disappearance of a performance bond. The bond is worth PHP75m and was posted by an e-sabong company.

Reports say charges have been filed by Joaquin Sy, chairman and chief finance officer of Kamura Highlands Gaming and Holdings. Kamura is licensed by Pagcor to offer online and remote betting on live cockfighting matches and events.

Charges include malversation of public funds, qualified theft and falsification of private and commercial documents before the ombudsman. 

Tengco has pledged to investigate claims over the missing performance bond.

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