The gambling regulator in the Philippines, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) urged social platforms to help combat illegal gambling in the country.
Citing reports that online activities of unlicensed operators have increased since the beginning of the health crisis induced by the coronavirus, the regulatory body claimed social media such as Facebook are among the platforms where illegal gaming operators promote their offering.
Social Media Promote Illegal Gambling
PAGCOR contacted Facebook and other social media platforms, offering them to collaborate with the regulator and the Philippine authorities to oust fraudulent activities from their platforms. The plea for collaboration comes after previous attempts from the regulator to protect the public and urge them to avoid gambling with illegal operators.
In June, PAGCOR issued a warning to the Philippine citizens that persons and groups had been organizing illegal Bingo games using Facebook, noting that patronizing such schemes could easily fall prey to identity theft or credit card fraud.
The regulator also reiterated that participation in illegal gambling schemes classifies as a criminal offense, as it is illegal for any person or organization without a license to directly or indirectly take part in any unauthorized gambling activities, including online, internet or remote gambling.
Roderick Consolacion, chief legal counsel of PAGCOR, sent an official letter to Facebook, asking the social media to act immediately against such illegal activities or risk being perceived as aiding and abetting them.
Collaboration with the Police and Financial Institutions
According to PAGCOR, efforts of the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) have led to one illegal online bingo operation being shut down and a number of others currently being under surveillance.
In addition to collaboration with the police, PAGCOR outlined it would request assistance from the central bank of the Philippines, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) of the country. The regulator would look for assistance to investigate banks, remittance services and payment solutions that are being used by illegal gambling companies.
“While illegal gambling per se is not among the predicate crimes of money laundering, frauds and swindling are. These are based on the act of taking bets from the public by falsely representing that they have a legitimate business, when in fact, they have no such authority.”PAGCOR
In May, the Philippine gambling regulator restored the offshore gambling industry in the country, looking to help generate funds to go towards government needs in the fight against the coronavirus. Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) were allowed to resume business, having been shut down since March 18, but operations at a reduced capacity, 30% of total staff, were only allowed as PAGCOR stressed on the importance of safety for their employees.