The Potential Consequences of Banning Offshore Gaming Operations in the Philippines
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Last Updated:21 June 2024


The Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has raised concerns about the potential job losses that could result from banning legal offshore gaming operators in the Metro Manila region. According to Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma, around 22,000 Filipinos currently employed by these companies could face unemployment if such a ban is implemented.

 

Secretary Laguesma addressed these concerns in a recent television interview, highlighting the significant challenges the government would face in supporting displaced workers. This discussion comes amidst increasing calls to prohibit the operations of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), now referred to as Internet Gaming Licensees (IGLs), following a rebranding by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) last year.

 

Government's Response to Potential Job Losses

Laguesma emphasized that DOLE is preparing measures to assist affected employees should a ban on offshore gaming operators take place. "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," he stated, as reported by the Manila Standard newspaper.

 

The potential job losses are substantial, given the current employment figures. From January to April this year, approximately 8,000 alien employment permits were issued to foreign workers in the licensed IGL sector, with most of these workers coming from Vietnam and China.

 

Stricter Regulations and International Pressure

In response to the controversy surrounding offshore gaming, DOLE has pledged to tighten the screening process for foreign workers applying for permits in this sector. This move aims to ensure that only qualified individuals are employed, potentially mitigating some of the adverse effects of a complete ban.

 

The push to ban offshore gaming operators is not solely driven by domestic concerns. The Chinese embassy in Manila has also advocated for such a ban, arguing that these operations harm both Philippine and Chinese interests and negatively impact China-Philippines relations.

 

Legislative and Regulatory Developments

Pagcor has recently taken steps to regulate the industry more stringently, converting 13 provisional IGL permits to full licenses. This brings the total number of fully licensed IGL operators to 40, all authorized to offer gaming services to offshore customers.

 

Despite these regulatory efforts, legislative moves to outlaw offshore gaming persist. In late May, Philippine Senator Sherwin Gatchalian introduced a bill seeking to ban the operations of offshore gaming operators in the country. This legislative effort reflects ongoing concerns about the social and economic impacts of the industry.

 

Conclusion

The potential ban on offshore gaming operators in the Philippines presents a complex challenge. While addressing the concerns of foreign governments and local advocacy groups, the government must also consider the significant economic impact such a move would have on thousands of Filipino workers. As the debate continues, the DOLE and other relevant agencies will need to balance these competing interests to find a solution that protects both the country's economic stability and its international relations.

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