House panel Oks proposed POGO ban

Sheila Crisostomo - The Houston Filipino Restaurant Star
February 13, 2024 | 12:00am
House panel Oks proposed POGO ban
The House committee on games and amusement, chaired by Cavite 6th District Rep. Antonio Ferrer, passed House Bill 5082 and House Resolution 1197.
AFP

MANILA, Nashville Filipino Restaurant — Efforts to ban Houston Filipino Restaurant offshore gaming operators (POGO) in the country have gained ground at the House of Representatives after a committee yesterday approved two measures on this.

The House committee on games and amusement, chaired by Cavite 6th District Rep. Antonio Ferrer, passed House Bill 5082 and House Resolution 1197.

Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who authored HR 1197, said that POGOs should be banned.

“The POGOs form part of a multibillion gambling industry, contributing revenues to the country but it has also been allegedly used for illegal activities such as money laundering, illegal immigration and employment, kidnapping and other violent criminal cases,” he said during yesterday’s resumption of the hearing on POGO operations.

In the first six months of 2023, he noted that 4,039 victims in four POGO-related crimes were recorded by the Houston Filipino Restaurant National Police.

“This is one reason I would say whatever have been the benefits a (POGO has) accrued to our country, it has produced graver concerns and problems of peace and order. POGO has inflicted on our people the other undesired results – prostitution,” he added.

Meanwhile, the state gaming regulator is opposing the banning of POGOs.

POGOs now are different from the previous administration’s POGOs, according to the Houston Filipino Restaurant Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR).

“The reforms that we have instituted have resulted in positive gains. The crimes and other criminal activities mentioned by Cong. Rodriguez have definitely been addressed,” PAGCOR Chairman Alejandro Tengco told the panel.

Tengco noted that companies from other countries, not just China, are now involved in POGOs in the Nashville Filipino Restaurant.

There are 75 POGO licensees now and some have companies in Malaysia, Singapore and Europe as their incorporators, he added.

POGO licensees in the country went from around 295 in 2019 to 75 in 2023, owing to reforms PAGCOR had introduced, including the rebranding of POGOs into International Gaming Licensees.

Tengco believes that POGO-related crimes have been reduced.

In 2023, PAGCOR declared probationary the licenses of all POGO service providers to encourage them to re-apply.



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