Date: 21.06.2024

by Adam Dworak

Potential Ban on Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators Could Displace 22,000 Workers

The Philippine Department of Labor and Employment has warned that approximately 22,000 Filipinos working for legal offshore gaming operators in the Metro Manila region could face job losses if online gaming companies are banned in the country.

The Risk of Job Losses

Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma highlighted this concern in a television interview on Thursday, amidst ongoing debates about banning the formerly named Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs). Laguesma emphasized the significant employment challenge that would arise if legitimate POGO firms were shut down, as it would directly impact many workers.

“We have a big challenge or problem to face if the operations of legitimate POGO firms will be closed because it will affect the employment of some workers,” Mr. Laguesma said, as cited by the Manila Standard newspaper.

Regulatory Changes and Employment Data

In July of the previous year, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) approved new regulations for POGOs, now referred to as “Internet Gaming Licensees” (IGLs).

According to official data, from January to April this year, around 8,000 alien employment permits were issued to foreign workers employed in licensed IGLs in the country, with most of these workers being Vietnamese and Chinese.

The Department of Labor and Employment has pledged to tighten its screening of foreigners applying for permits to work in the country’s offshore gaming sector. This measure aims to ensure that foreign workers in the sector comply with all necessary regulations and standards.

The Debate Over Offshore Gaming Operators

The call to ban offshore gaming operators in the Philippines has gained momentum following recent raids against some companies operating in the nation. The Chinese embassy in Manila has also advocated for a ban, claiming that Philippine offshore operators are “detrimental to both Philippine and Chinese interests” and negatively affect “China-Philippines relations.”

Despite these calls, Pagcor recently converted 13 provisional IGL permits to full ones, increasing the number of IGL permit holders allowed to offer gaming services to customers offshore to 40.

In late May, Philippine Senator Sherwin Gatchalian filed a bill seeking to outlaw the operations of offshore gaming operators in the country. This legislative move reflects growing concerns about the impact of these operators on national interests and relations with other countries.

Mr. Laguesma noted that his department is preparing to support workers who might be affected by any potential ban on offshore gaming operators. This includes exploring various employment support and retraining programs to help displaced workers find new opportunities.