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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Gatchalian files measure to outlaw POGOs amid increase in crimes

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Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has filed a bill to outlaw Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) in the country, amid increasing criminal activities linked to the industry.

Senate Bill 2689 seeks to repeal the taxability of offshore gaming in the country as provided by Republic Act 11590, which legitimizes POGO operations.

Gatchalian emphasized that while the POGO industry has brought in revenue and jobs, the country has grappled with a surge in POGO-related crimes, raising concerns about the overall impact on the industry.

“The main goal is ultimately to outlaw and prohibit offshore gaming operations in the country,” said Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

Several incidents have come to the Senate’s attention, including the series of police raids at POGOs in May last year.

The senator cited various atrocities attributed to the industry, which have generated public outcry for a ban on the industry, further intensified by economic costs brought by such operations.

A cost-benefit analysis conducted by the Department of Finance in 2022 showed that POGO operations generated economic benefits worth P133.7 to P144.5 billion annually due to foregone potential investments and tourism revenues, alongside costs associated with enforcement and immigration.

This resulted in a net cost of about P3.3 billion to P14 billion annually, equivalent to 0.01 percent to 0.06 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Gatchalian believes that POGO operations have brought more harm than good, as the economic costs greatly outweigh the benefits derived from such operations.

Editor’s Note: This is an updated article. Originally posted with the headline For bringing ‘more harm than good,’ Gatchalian proposes total POGO ban

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