By Melo Acuña

The government-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) has suspended the issuance of licenses for Philippine Offshore
Gaming Operators (POGOs).

In a press briefing on Monday, Pagcor chief Andrea Domingo said that with the moratorium, her agency would “closely review and monitor” existing POGO contracts to address security and legal concerns. The moratorium will hold until Dec. 31,2019.

“We began the moratorium three weeks ago due to miscommunications about POGO and the POGO hubs. There were also concerns on social cause, security problems, legitimacy of operations, so we decided to do what is necessary to address these issues immediately,” she said.

Pagcor had issued gaming employment licenses to 58 POGO operators with over 130,000 employees in the past three years. There are still three pending POGO applications.

She said 61 POGOs in the country were enough and Pagcor would no longer accept applications following concerns raised by lawmakers and the real estate sector.

Domingo, a former head of the Bureau of Immigration and a former lawmaker, said Pagcor was working closely with the Philippine National Police anti-cybercrime group and the National Bureau of Investigation to ensure POGOs operated legally.

She noted that prior to becoming Pagcor chief under the Duterte administration, there were “numerous offshore gaming operations in the country operating illegally,” with about 80,000 employees.

“We found out about these illegal operations and we resolved the issues and legalized them,” she added.

Other countries, according to Domingo, were looking at the Philippine experience because from 2016 to 2018, POGOs remitted almost P12 billion to the national coffers.

“This year, the agency is expecting P8 billion more, it’s P20 billion in a span of three years,” she said.

(Thumbnail image from Cagayan Economic Zone Authority)