China and the Philippines are at a crossroads regarding online gambling which has caused a lot of controversy between the two Asian nations. China has called on for the Pacific country to put an end to this gambling vertical, citing concerns about the fate of Chinese citizens who are lured into gambling business as expats.
However, Philippines' controversial president, Rodrigo Duterte, has rejected these calls from Chinese officials and has announced online gambling will continue as planned, despite this.
Relations Between Two Countries at Stake
Duerte simply said: “I decided that we need it. Many will lose jobs [if it stops].”
Chinese officials claim that the online gambling industry in Manila is targeting their citizens through Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO). China's officials even described gaming as the “most dangerous tumor in modern society detested by people all across the world” when he called for a complete ban of iGaming.
There is one good reason why Duterte will not get rid of POGOs...
...which is, this year alone, they're expected to deliver $154 million in license fees alone. The online gambling industry in the Philippines capital employs circa 350,000 people. Over 100,000 of these are Chinese, mostly employed in marketing and customer service.
Duterte promised a stiffer government supervision of this industry and reminded operators that they need to adhere to remittance, lest they be shut down.
PAGCOR Joins the Dismissal of China's Claims
Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has also rejected any claims that Chinese citizens are affected by gaming in this country...
...as Benjamin Diokno, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, pointed out that online gambling companies are not involved in money laundering, and added:
“What if all of a sudden they decide to pack up and leave? What will be the impact of that on the property sector, also the food industry, the restaurants? This is part of my job as BSP governor.”
PAGCOR has, it has to be said, suspended the awarding of offshore licenses until at least the end of 2019.
The call for an online gambling ban in the Philippines follows what seems to be a trend in South East Asia...
...because it was the government of Cambodia that recently banned all online gambling operations in this country, due to an unprecedented number of illegal operators flooding the market.
On August 18th, Prime Minister, Hun Sen, signed a decree that will see all 150 operators shut down their businesses. International as well as Cambodian players have been targeted by illegal operators who often cheated and extorted money from players.
“Rodrigo Duerte Rejects China's Cal for Philippines to Ban Online Gambling”, europeangaming.eu, September 6, 2019.