The Philippines’ Steady Stance on iGaming

  • Philippines ambassador to China denies ongoing insinuations that the President will ban all online gambling due to Chinese government calls
  • For now the Philippines has suspended activities on issuing new online gambling licenses in an attempt to cooperate with China’s requests
  • Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson pressed the matter further, requesting that the Philippines proceed with disallowing online gambling

“He will say it’s legal in the Philippines. It’s not rejecting the request, it’s explaining the difference. They can’t dictate to us. Those are sovereign decisions, so that is where we stand… For me the key is for the President to be ready to explain this.” said ambassador Jose Santiago Chito St. Romana in a press briefing.

President Dutertes’ Contemplation

It is unquestionable that the gambling industry has a great role to play in the Philippines’ economy. Bearing in mind the growing trend, 2018s’ annual reports made for a total gross gaming revenue (GGR) of PHP187.54 billion, which marks a 22.9% growth in comparison to the previous year. Prognoses for 2019 expect even more out of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) owned properties, which – mind you – contribute 100% of their GGR to the government, according to PAGCOR director, Andrea Domingo.

Manila, the capital of the archipelagic country, houses four casino resorts and the larger part of the above amount was generated by the said four properties, which are directly involved in a larger plan dubbed Manila’s Entertainment City project. Their respective online iterations play a key part in the gambling generated profit expansion.

That in mind, following China’s recent pressing requests for an all-out iGaming ban would certainly take its toll on Philippine economy and negatively impact their employment sector.

Diplomat Jose Santiago Chito St. Romana explained this in the aforementioned press briefing, emphasizing on the point that this kind of decision remains solely in the hands of President Duterte and cannot be dictated by outside factors. He further added that, should such a twist occur and the Philippines proceed to disallow iGaming, this would be done slowly, so as to not elicit any sudden economic turbulence.

So far, the Philippines have acknowledged China’s concerns over criminal activity and social problems arising around its southern borders, and has respectively suspended granting new licenses to POGOs – otherwise known as Philippine offshore gaming operators.

Just recently, Cambodia also suspended procedures over issuing new gambling licenses for much of the same reasons, in an attempt to crack down on organised crime.

China’s Foreign Ministry Response

Geng Shuang, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, had – just last week – expressed his appreciation over the fact that the Philippines had acknowledged China’s concerns, but pressed the matter further by saying that China’s hopes are that the Philippines will proceed with a full-blown ban.

Earlier this year the Chinese government voiced claims concerning POGOs, operating under PAGCOR licenses, which are luring Chinese nationals over the South border with promises of employment. This becomes a cause for concern for both countries but especially China, as reports about abducted and/or even murdered Chinese nationals have flooded Southern authorities.

The Presidential Meeting

Would the Philippines fold and ban iGaming, joining China’s righteous fight against crime or will they attempt to tackle the matter by their own accord remains to be seen. Not to forget that there is also a territorial matter for them to attend to.

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