Philippines shuts 214 illegal online gambling operations

Oct 19, 2022, 7:46 AM | Updated: 7:57 am

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine officials say they have shut down at least 214 illegal Chinese offshore gambling operations and deported the first six of nearly 400 Chinese workers who have been detained under a renewed crackdown.

A spate of crimes victimizing Chinese workers at illegal online gambling businesses, including kidnappings and sexual abuses, sparked the crackdown and calls for the banning of even legitimate operators in the lucrative industry.

Called Philippine offshore gaming operators, or POGOs, the Chinese-run gambling firms are based in the Philippines, but their customers are overseas. They began growing rapidly in 2016, generating about 30 billion pesos ($508 million) in gambling revenues and fees from 2016 to this year, officials said.

The current crackdown is directed against Chinese operators who have not paid taxes or revenue shares or have committed other violations of the law. The visas of their estimated 48,000 mostly Chinese workers will be canceled, and they can either leave on their own or face mass deportations, Justice Assistant Secretary Jose Dominic Clavano said by telephone.

“All of these illegal POGOs cannot operate in the country and the people who work for them are violating our laws and we should make sure that they leave our country,” Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla told reporters at Manila’s international airport, where the six deported Chinese workers boarded a commercial flight on Wednesday back to China.

Beijing has backed the crackdown on online gambling operations, which cater to clients in China despite Beijing’s ban on gambling.

“Crimes induced by and associated with POGO not only harm China’s interests and China-Philippines relations, but also hurt the interests of the Philippines,” the Chinese Embassy said in a statement last week.

“It is, therefore, widely believed that social costs of POGO far outweigh its economic benefits to the Philippines in the long run,” the embassy said.

The six deported Chinese were among 372 mostly Chinese workers who have been detained by Philippine authorities starting in September from different offshore gambling sites, Clavano said.

The identities of the other Chinese are still being verified with Chinese authorities in an often-tedious process prior to their deportation, Clavano said.

Remulla said authorities are also checking how many of the more than 48,000 Chinese workers currently remain in the country because some may have left.

More than 200,000 to 300,000 Chinese were believed to have worked in the online gambling operations when the business peaked starting in 2016, boosting real estate, transport and food businesses in cities where they were based. But a considerable number were forced to leave due to sporadic government crackdowns, a more stringent tax law and the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.

Philippine legislators have debated whether to ban the online Chinese gambling industry altogether.

“It is true that they contribute to the coffers, but it comes at significant social costs, which in turn pose a reputational risk that can affect our business and investment climate,” Sen. Grace Poe told a Senate hearing on the issue early this month.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - The seal of the Board of Governors of the United States Federal Reserve System is displayed ...
Associated Press

Wyoming crypto bank’s Federal Reserve application denied

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Federal Reserve Board has denied a Wyoming cryptocurrency bank’s application for Federal Reserve System membership, officials announced Friday, dealing a setback to the crypto industry’s attempts to build acceptance in mainstream U.S. banking. Many in crypto have been looking to Cheyenne-based Custodia Bank’s more than 2-year-old application as a bellwether […]
18 hours ago
In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, Senior Airmen Andrew Whitener and Tyler Glodgett 341s...
Associated Press

Nuclear strike chief seeks cancer review of launch officers

WASHINGTON (AP) — The top Air Force general in charge of the nation’s air- and ground-launched nuclear missiles has requested an official investigation into the number of officers who are reporting blood cancer diagnoses after serving at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. The illnesses became publicly known this week after The Associated Press obtained […]
18 hours ago
FILE - An Amazon Fresh grocery store stands in Warrington, Pa., on Feb. 4, 2022. In an email to Pri...
Associated Press

Amazon axes free grocery delivery on Prime orders under $150

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon is axing free grocery delivery for Prime members on orders less than $150. Customers who get their groceries delivered from Amazon Fresh — and pay less than $150 — will be charged between $3.95 and $9.95, depending on the order size, the company said in an email to Prime members […]
18 hours ago
FILE - Fireworks explode over the ancient Parthenon temple at the Acropolis hill during New Year ce...
Associated Press

Fitch ups Greece’s rating to a notch below investment grade

NEW YORK (AP) — Credit ratings company Fitch has raised Greece’s credit rating to one notch below investment grade. In a report issued Friday, Fitch estimates that Greece’s deficit will shrink to 1.8% of its gross domestic product in 2024 from an estimated 3.8% last year. “There is some uncertainty around fiscal policies after the […]
18 hours ago
FILE - Retired Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt speaks during an interview in Tokyo, Thursday, Dec. 1, ...
Associated Press

Usain Bolt fires business manager over Jamaica fraud case

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt told reporters Friday that he is baffled over how $12.7 million of his money has gone missing from a local private investment firm that authorities are investigating as part of a massive fraud that began more than a decade ago. Bolt also said he has […]
18 hours ago
This image taken from video provided by the NAOJ & Asahi Shimbun, shows spiral swirling through the...
Associated Press

Camera captures night sky spiral after SpaceX rocket launch

HONOLULU (AP) — A camera atop Hawaii’s tallest mountain has captured what looks like a spiral swirling through the night sky. Researchers believe it was from the launch of a military GPS satellite that lifted off earlier on a SpaceX rocket in Florida. The images were captured on Jan. 18 by a camera at the […]
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
...
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
Philippines shuts 214 illegal online gambling operations