POGO killer? Xi Jinping to ask Duterte to curb on-line casino operations in PH
China President Xi Jinping is expected to make an appeal to President Rodrigo Duterte to put the clamps on the country’s on-line gaming businesses whose main clients are mainland Chinese gamblers.
A Bilyonaryo source said the Chinese addiction to on-line gaming would be part of the agenda of in the proposed state visit of Xi to the Philippines scheduled before the end of the year.
The source said China was worried about the rising number of bankruptcies and tragedies faced by Chinese gamblers who get their fix from on-line games.
The Philippines has emerged as one the biggest providers of on-line casino and othe gaming services to the mainlanders especially during the watch of Duterte.
After taking over Malacanang in 2016, Duterte moved to consolidate the multi-billion peso industry through the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corp. which issued new licenses for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO). Pagcor has so far sold 53 licenses ($20,000 for e-casino and $190,000 for sports betting) and it expects on-line gaming revenues to double this year to P6 billion. The POGO boom has also led to a spike in property prices and influx of Chinese workers.
The Chinese government consider gambling as a social evil and it has been banned since the Communist Party took over in 1949. While Chinese gamblers used to go to Macau or Hong Kong to satisfy their gambling addiction, the advent of virtual casinos have allowed millions of Chinese to play cards through their mobile phones at home.
It remains to be seen whether Duterte would give in to Xi’s request. Although he has repeatedly stated that he hated gambling, POGOs have raised substantial revenues for the government and the victims were not Filipinos.