PAGCOR plays down igaming industry impact on China
A senior figure at the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has played down the impact of the country’s online gambling industry on China amid heightening tensions.
Victor Padilla, senior manager of PAGCOR’s policy and offshore gaming licensing division, was speaking during the House budget hearing on the agency’s 2020 budget just days after Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said that the Philippines should “ban all online gambling”.
Padilla claimed that Philippines-licensed sites were not active in any country that prohibits online gambling, per PAGCOR regulations. He also cast doubt on claims that Chinese employees of offshore gaming operators were being mistreated, suggesting it was an issue of “perspective”.
It emerged at the start of this week that PAGCOR had opted to suspend the award of licences to offshore operators (POGOs) until at least the end of this year due to concerns about illegal operations and security.
This followed a Chinese embassy spokesperson in the Philippines accusing PAGCOR of issuing licences to operators that illegally target Chinese nationals. The spokesperson warned the Philippines to adopt “concrete and effective measures to prevent and punish the Philippine casinos, POGOs and other forms of gambling entities for their illegal employment of Chinese citizens and crack down related crimes that hurt the Chinese citizens”.
The Cambodian Government has also ceased awarding new online gambling licences with immediate effect in an effort to clamp down on illegal gambling activities.
However, although Geng said at his regular press conference this week that he “appreciates” the steps taken by the Philippines and Cambodia, he called for the Philippines to “go further and ban all online gambling”.
The budget hearing also saw PAGCOR assistant vice president Sharon Quintanilla reveal that the regulator expects total revenue for 2019 to reach P73.88bn (£1.15bn/€1.27bn/$1.41bn), down from 2018's total of P104.12bn. Of this sum, P51.53 is expected to be allocated to “nation-building” projects, such as constructing schools and accommodation, she said. Revenue for the first six months of 2019 amounted to P38.08bn.
Representatives at the hearing praised PAGCOR for being a partner in support in rebuilding efforts following natural disasters.