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PAGCOR stops accepting all POGO applications

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation has stopped accepting applications for offshore gaming licenses until all concerns have been addressed, PAGCOR chair Andrea Domingo said Monday.

The industry regulator has started reviewing concerns about Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO), Domingo noted.

In Malacañang, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said PAGCOR’s new policy would stay unless reversed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Until the President reverses the stand of PAGCOR, that remains to be the policy. Because the President always respects heads of departments and offices to do their duty and undertaking,” Panelo said at a news conference.

Some lawmakers have sought an investigation into the effects of POGOs on the local economy, national security, and the public amid issues on revenue monitoring and the entry of foreigners who they said work for offshore gaming operations without valid work permits.

PAGCOR has also proposed to transfer Chinese online gambling workers to self-contained communities or hubs, prompting apprehension from the Chinese Embassy that the move may infringe on Chinese citizens’ rights.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, for his part, has raised concern that POGO operations near military camps could be used for espionage.

He said POGOs would be better located in areas where concerned agencies can monitor them instead of near military installations.

PAGCOR has not observed military-looking types among the Chinese workers, but will continue to monitor and report “abnormal or irregular behavior” to the proper authorities, Domingo said.

As of end July 2019, the regulator has earned more than P16 billion in revenue from offshore gaming operations since it started regulating POGOs. —VDS, GMA News