The announcement by Alejandro Tengco, chairman of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation
(PAGCOR) that there are six times more Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos) operating without a license
than the forty-six legitimate operators they are regulating came as no surprise considering that what they are overseeing is a gambling activity. Even without the announcement by Tengco the public and even the government itself is well aware that in the history of gambling, even in its allowed form, all manner of shenanigans, duplicity and crimes are committed.

Because it is a game of chance, gambling routinely invites acts that are definitely contrary to law whether of the
white-collar kind or the more severe felonies such as kidnapping and murder. All of these are par for the course when you talk of gambling. In the case of POGOs there is already a clamor for them to be booted out of the
country citing, among others, concerns regarding the national security of the country. No less than the chief of the Department of National Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro has mentioned that the POGO is a national security

The defense secretary has every right to sound the alarm because for one, these online gambling operators are employing thousands of foreign nationals who are mainly Chinese. Why Chinese? Because most of the clients of these POGOs are those living in mainland China who are prohibited to engage in gambling in that country. Another is the hard fact that at the moment tensions are still high between China and the Philippines relative to their individual claims in the Spratly Islands in the Western Philippine Sea, finally it has been found out that some of these Pogos are operating right beside or near military installations and facilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

These are factors that must be considered carefully by the government in their determination to address the concern of whether POGOs should continue to operate in the country or permanently removed from the archipelago. Right now, it has been established by the gaming regulator PAGCOR that there are around 300 Pogos operating in Philippines without a requisite license and that only 46 are deemed legitimate operators. How come there are so many Pogos operating illegally? Well, the answer to that is simply because it is gambling and there are oodles
of money to be made in that kind of enterprise.

But how come with these so many Pogos operating illegally only a miniscule number have been raided and closed by the authorities? Well to start with its very difficult to detect the actual conduct of illegal Pogos because much of their activities are done indoor using computers and the internet concealed from the public. Also, because of the
availability of large sums of money as their fund, probably from gambling or crime syndicates, these Pogos thru
either legitimate or dummy corporations and companies are able to rent out or buy huge swathes of land where they can create their own exclusive and private mini-cities complete with all the amenities and somehow totally inconspicuous from prying eyes.

The only way authorities can put a stop to these illegal Pogos is if they receive complaints for abuse and maltreatment, scamming operations or cases of slave or human trafficking as what had happened in the case of the
Pogo hub raided in Bamban, Tarlac and the most recent one in Porac, Pampanga raided by the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) where controversial alleged Chinese military uniforms and medals were recovered apart from alleged drugs, jewelry, computers, computer parts, cellphones and even alleged torture devices.

While it is true that online gambling has become a thriving industry in the Philippines and the billions of pesos contributed by these Pogos for the good of the economy, still the increasing concern regarding national security, especially with the tenuous relationship with China, along with these online gambling operations being linked to crimes such as kidnapping, murder, human trafficking, and prostitution has put Pogos in a bad light and no
matter the attempt to downplay its ill effects on society there are enough good reasons to put a stop to them once and for all, at least during the administration of President Bongbong Marcos.

On the other side of the coin however if the government would still allow Pogos to operate in the country then it must make sure that it is heavily regulated and hefty fines as well as lengthy terms of imprisonment are imposed
against those who would take advantage of this online gaming industry.

Amianan Balita Ngayon