Philippine senator pushes bill to ban all forms of online gambling

Philippine senator pushes bill to ban all forms of online gambling
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A key opponent of the Philippines POGO industry has called for all forms of online gambling to be banned.

Senator Joel Villanueva on Thursday pushed for passage of Senate Bill (SB) 1281, which if passed would prohibit the Internet Gaming Licensee (IGL) scheme – previously known as Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) – but also ban other forms of online gambling. It is not clear if this would include the growing “remote gaming” industry which allows land-based casino operators to provide live-streamed gaming to Philippine residents.

In a statement, Villanueva, who pointed to evidence of human trafficking, scams and kidnapping among former POGO license holders, said “There should be no debate that the social costs of gambling far outweigh any benefits. We must put an end to this once and for all.”

He also accused gaming regulator PAGCOR of having “unfortunately failed” to ensure the POGOs conduct their businesses in compliance with the law, as per a Philippine News Agency report.

“In fact, the POGOs raided in Bamban, Tarlac, and Porac, Pampanga were both ex-PAGCOR licensees found to be running scam operations,” Villanueva said.

“This is why we reiterate our call not only to completely ban POGOs but also all forms of online gaming,” he said.

Senate Bill 1281 proposes that any person involved in online gambling shall be punished by imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of up to Php500,000 (US$8,500).

In an explanatory note filed with his original in September 2022, Villanueva said, “The consequences of gambling and online gambling are too severe to be ignored. The cost of gambling is no longer limited to the loss of money, but extends to the loss of values and lives.”