POGO ban will do harm than good, says solon

A lawmaker on Wednesday is calling on the government to do a double-take on the proposed banning of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators in the country, saying that the move will “do more harm than good.”

Albay Second District Representative Joey Salceda stressed that the proposed ban would worsen the social costs and might result to crimes associated with gambling, which will be a problem for the law enforcement agencies of the country.

He added that there is a big possibility that POGOs will be driven underground as gambling in the Philippines has been “digitizing” with the existence of e-sabong, e-bingo and e-casino platforms.

Salceda said stopping gambling should be accompanied by also preventing the digitalization of the operations, but admitted that it will be a tough task to do.

To recall, the government has been prodded by some sectors — including members of the Philippine legislature — to outlaw POGOs, which has been linked to the increased local criminal activity, particularly kidnapping.

Salceda suggested that instead of banning POGO operations, the government should regulate and tax them properly coupled with strictly enforcing laws to solve gambling-related crimes of kidnapping, extortion and prostitution.

The House Ways and Means Committee chair also said that the Philippines has the most brutal tax laws on POGOs in the world.

“We have one of the most brutal tax laws on POGOs in the whole world. In fact, we’re the only ones with a law on POGOs. You cannot stop gambling unless you stop digitalization,” Salceda said.

“These digital games keep appearing again and again. The solution is to just regularize and regulate it basically… to have very strong regulatory powers,” he added.

The solon added that there should be a systematic approach of addressing the problem with the help of National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation.

He stressed that if the POGOs are banned, at least 20,000 direct hires and around 70,000 more who are indirectly employed like waiters and drivers may lose their jobs.

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