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Fly-by-night POGO tech firms whittled down as Pagcor cracks whip

By: - Reporter / @daxinq
/ 04:32 PM March 21, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The country’s gaming regulator said it has successfully whittled down the number of technology service providers for internet-based casino operations to “a little under 200” legitimate outfits from a high of “almost 30,000” fly-by-night operations.

At the same time, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) rolled out an intensified crackdown on illegal online gambling through the creation of an interagency council that will lean on the law enforcement strength of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

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“We are serious about implementing President Duterte’s directive to stamp out illegal online gambling,” Pagcor chair Andrea Domingo told reporters in Manila. “We will not stop under they are eradicated.”

Proof of the campaign’s early success is Pagcor’s P6 billion in revenues last year from legitimate Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO), which is up sharply from the P56 million in total fees the government collected from these online gaming firms before regulations were introduced.

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What made regulating the industry particularly challenging was the proliferation of illegal IT service providers that were run out of rented homes in gated communities or condominium units staffed by former employees of legitimate POGO firms, Domingo said.

“But in coordination with law enforcement agencies, we are focusing on clamping down on that activity,” the Pagcor chief said.

On Thursday, Pagcor joined hands with PNP, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the Office of Cybercrime (OOC) under the Department of Justice (DOJ) to create an inter-agency council that will handle intelligence gathering, investigations, and prosecutions of illegal online gaming activities.

The creation of the inter-agency council was in response to Executive Order No. 13 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte on February 2, 2017 “to strengthen the fight against illegal gambling and to clarify the jurisdiction and authority of concerned agencies in the regulation and licensing of gambling and online gaming facilities.”

Under said order, Pagcor’s authority to regulate all games of chance — including online gaming, except those regulated by other regulatory bodies to the extent of their respective jurisdictions — was reinforced.

Meanwhile, the inter-agency council, given the respective mandate of each member-agency, will be responsible for gathering and sharing of intelligence information on illegal online gambling; exchange information on the developments in their activities; report and centralize data and information gathered on illegal gambling activities; provide manpower for intelligence operations, surveillance, raids, arrest and prosecution.

The council is also tasked to implement their respective investigation procedures including digital forensic examination, gaming license validation, visa certifications, and filing of appropriate criminal and administrative charges against online gambling operators.

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