The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) and a group of companies that provide information technology services to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs) on Friday denounced fly-by-night firms not licensed to operate by the government regulator.

In a statement, Pagcor said it also “welcomes the wisdom” of calls by a lawmaker for a stronger vetting process on POGO firms after one unregistered operation was uncovered in Makati City earlier this week.

Pagcor said that it denounces all forms of illegal in the country – whether it is land-based or online. “Hence, we welcome this recent move by authorities to apprehend illegal online gaming operators or what we now officially called non-registered offshore gaming operator or NOGOs,” Pagcor said.

The regulator’s stand was seconded by the Association of Concerned Service Providers (ACSP) for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators which issued a separate statement saying it was “one with efforts to go against erring POGO operators which have put the entire industry in a bad light.”

“We do not condone or partner with illegal POGO operators,” said the group’s statement, pointing out that the operator that was raided by Makati City police “was clearly operating illegally because the perpetrators were operating inside a residence and, as such, operating without a business permit.”

“We at the association have our own programs to make sure that POGOs we do business with comply with all the governmental requirements and guidelines in their operations,” the group said.

It also explained that its service provider members have carried out additional protocols in their operations, as well in the transportation of their employees “to make sure that they do not jeopardize the anti-COVID-19 efforts of the government.”

“We would also like to point out that most POGOs are compliant with all the legal requirements and there are just a few illegal operators that put the entire industry in a bad light,” the group said.

For its part, Pagcor said its intensified efforts to crack down on illegal online can be traced way back in March 2019 when it entered into a mutual cooperation agreement with the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Immigration and the Office of Cybercrime under the Department of Justice.

“Because of the limitations of its charter, Pagcor has no police powers,” the agency said. “Hence, it could not arrest or prosecute illegal operations. What it can do within the bounds of its charter is to regulate gaming entities, and ensure that revenues from such operations will be used for the benefit of the country.”

But the mutual cooperation agreement resulted in the formation of an inter-agency council or task force to handle intelligence gathering on illegal online , centralize information sharing, intelligence operations, surveillance, raids, arrest and prosecution of illegal online gaming activities.

Pagcor said it cooperates fully with the task force by validating licenses, providing business, tax and other information on record.

It also provides financial grants to these agencies to boost their law enforcement capacities.

Edited by TSB

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