Date: 11.07.2024

by Adam Dworak

Phased Approach Advocated for POGO Regulation in the Philippines

At the Saturday News Forum in Quezon City, Dr. Winston Casio, spokesperson for the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), suggested a phased approach to address the issues surrounding Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs). Dr. Casio advocated for a gradual phaseout of these operators, accompanied by transitional measures to tackle the problems associated with so-called “scam farms.”

Consideration of Phased Approach Before Total Ban

Dr. Casio proposed revisiting discussions on a phased approach before considering a total ban. “Before we direct ourselves to a discussion on total ban, we could probably revisit discussions of phaseout,” he stated during the forum. He stressed that decisions regarding POGOs are ultimately policy issues that require higher-level deliberation.

Role of Executive Secretary in Decision-Making

Dr. Casio clarified that any decisions regarding POGOs would defer to Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, the chairman of the commission. He emphasized that policy recommendations made by Bersamin to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. would be instrumental in guiding their approach. Authorities respect and defer to Bersamin’s final decisions on these matters.

Current POGO Landscape and Challenges

Providing an overview of the POGO landscape in the Philippines, Dr. Casio noted that only 42 POGOs are operating legally, with one based in Kawit, Cavite, and the rest in Metro Manila.

Despite government efforts to revoke 298 POGO licenses, unauthorized operations continue across various regions nationwide. Unauthorized POGOs are reportedly operating illegally from Northern Luzon to Mindanao and Central Visayas.

Addressing Unauthorized Operations

Dr. Casio highlighted the persistence of unauthorized POGO operations despite the government’s efforts to curtail them. This ongoing issue underscores the need for a structured and phased approach to effectively manage and mitigate the challenges posed by these operators.

In summary, the PAOCC is advocating for a carefully considered and phased strategy to address the presence of POGOs in the Philippines. This approach aims to balance regulatory enforcement with transitional measures, ultimately deferring to high-level policy decisions.