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‘Ban online gambling’

Andrea Domingo

BEIJING wants the Philippines to ban all online gambling.

“We have also taken note of the Philippine government’s announcement and appreciate it. We hope the Philippines will go further and ban all online gambling,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said in a press conference in Beijing.

Geng was referring to the Philippine move to suspend all applications for online gaming licenses until after a study of the problems concerning the industry.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation earlier said it was looking into concerns about Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO).

One of the concerns was raised by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana who warned that POGOs near military camps could be used for “spying”.

PAGCOR has broached the idea of creating POGO hubs or communities where Chinese online gambling personnel will work and live.

However the Chinese Embassy in Manila protested.

Makati City Pabakuna

It said the proposed move “may infringe on the basic legal rights of the Chinese citizens concerned” and “strongly urged the Philippine government to effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens in the Philippines.”

It also noted that many of the Chinese citizens working illegally in Philippine casinos or POGOs have been subjected to “modern slavery due to severe limitation of their personal freedom.”

The Embassy has said online gambling has affected the Chinese side and undermined its financial supervision and financial security as a “huge amount” of gambling-related funds, amounting to hundreds of millions of Chinese yuan, flow illegally out of China and into the Philippines every year.

The embassy also said gambling in any form is illegal in China and its citizens are prohibited from gambling or engaging in the gaming industry in and outside its territory.

Geng however expressed hope that a ban on POGOs will further strengthen law enforcement with China and jointly tackle criminal activities including online gambling and cyber fraud.

“This will help create an enabling environment for the development of bilateral relations and peace and stability in the region,” said the foreign ministry spokesman.

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