Senator in the Philippines Wants to Ban Online Gambling Due to Criminal Activity by Licensees

  • Senator Joel Villanueva’s bill would end the POGO licensing framework
  • He referenced the involvement of POGOs in scams, kidnapping, and trafficking
  • Villanueva criticized PAGCOR for failing to keep these licensees in line
Philippines cash with dice and cards
A senator in the Philippines wants to ban online gambling, claiming that the social costs significantly outweigh the benefits. [Image:]

A senator in the Philippines is trying to get support for a bill that would completely ban online gambling despite the government taking in more than ₱5bn (US$85.5m) last year from licensees. He thinks the social costs are significantly greater than any benefits the country garners from allowing the activity.

Senator Joel Villanueva explained on Thursday that Senate Bill 1281 aims to end the issuance of licenses to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) and prohibit people in the country from gambling online. It proposes a penalty of up to ₱500,000 (US$8,550) or as much as six months in prison for anyone with involvement in the activity.

POGOs engaged in nefarious activities like kidnapping, human trafficking

The 48-year-old claims that certain POGOs engaged in nefarious activities like kidnapping, human trafficking, and running scam operations, referencing numerous law enforcement raids.

The senator also took aim at the country’s gambling regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), for failing to ensure that POGOs are fully compliant, citing this as another reason to end the offshore licensing model.

This is not the first time Villanueva has railed against online gambling as he proposed similar changes in September 2022.

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