China to PH: Ban all online gambling; Source: https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1078352
Online Gambling in China is Illegal
Mainland China is strictly anti-gambling. Both online and offline wagering are illegal with both punishable by fines and imprisonment. This goes for both operators and patrons. The country even attempts to block citizens’ access to online casinos via the Great Firewall of China.
China wants Philippines to ban online gambling
China also wants to 'jointly tackle criminal activities including online gambling and cyber fraud,' saying it would help development relations between Manila and Beijing
China on Wednesday, August 21, asked the Philippines to ban all forms of online gambling as it lauded the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation's (Pagcor) recent move to suspend accepting applications for Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO).
Cambodia formally closes door on online gaming
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has officially closed the door on online gambling in a parliamentary hearing on Friday.
The Kingdom won’t issue any further licenses and will not renew existing ones once they expire. In Cambodia, the renewal of gaming licences normally takes place in January, meaning existing online gaming licences will only be valid until the end of the year.
Cambodia’s ban follows Beijing’s decision to crackdown on online gambling targeting its citizens.
The government made three main points in a memorandum announcing the measures.
1) Any form of online gaming, both domestically and internationally would be totally banned.
2) The Ministry of Economics & Finance has been given a directive by Prime Minister Hun Sen not to renew existing online gaming licences and there will be no new issuance of online gaming licences moving forward.
3) The government will continue to crack down on local and online gambling businesses. Some foreign entities have resorted to using online gambling as a front to extort and scam money from innocent victims at home and abroad, resulting in chaos in security, public and social orders, it claims.
In a strongly worded statement in August, China urged international cooperation and warned it would not tolerate Chinese nationals gambling overseas. Cambodia was quick to respond flagging its intention to ban the practice. The Philippines has also put a temporary suspension on the issuance of new licenses. The decision affects many of the land-based licensees in Cambodia, especially in Sihanoukville, where online and proxy betting are the main drivers of revenue. Billions of dollars have flooded into the once sleepy seaside town, fuelling a massive construction boom.
Mainland Chinese are reported to now be leaving the country en masse.
PNP to step up drive vs POGO-related crimes in the Philippines
The Philippine National Police (PNP) vowed yesterday to launch an intensified crackdown on criminal syndicates operating within Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO) firms as it announced the rescue of two Chinese nationals just the other day in Pampanga.
Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, PNP spokesman, said the Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) have been tasked to curb the rising number of kidnappings and other crimes committed within the POGO industry.
“We will intensify our operations,” Banac said in a phone interview, a day after Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian called on the PNP, Bureau of Immigration (BI) and National Bureau of Investigation to hunt down criminal syndicates operating in POGO companies.
He said that even before the senator made that appeal, the PNP has been operating against crime syndicates victimizing Chinese workers.
Banac cited how latest operation of the AKG in Clark, Pampanga last Monday resulted in the rescue of two Chinese men from their abductors.
Philippine government loses P51B to POGO 'tax evasion'
Philippine Offshore Gaming Operation (POGO) operators' "skirting" of our tax laws has cost the government some P51 billion in revenues, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said Sunday.
Based on his calculations, Gatchalian told Dobol B sa News TV that the Bureau of Internal Revenue has only collected P11 billion from POGOs, when the amount should have been P62 billion.
"Ang nangyayari ay pinapalusutan tayo nitong mga POGO sa ating bansa. Meron silang tinatawag na off-shore companies, so ibig sabihin dito sila nag-ooperate pero hindi sila nagbabayad ng taxes kasi ang kanilang sinasabi ay hindi naman sila Philippine-registered, sila ay off-shore-registered," he said.
"Ito ay consistent doon sa sinabi ng BIR sa hearing na hindi nila mapuwersang kolektahan itong mga off-shore na POGO dahil hindi sila nakarehistro dito," the senator added.
Out of the 60 POGO licenses issued by the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation, only 11 are registered in the Philippines while the rest are foreign-registered, Gatchalian pointed out.
8 of 11 licensed POGOs refuse to pay licensing fees: BIR
Eight of the 11 Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) who currently have permits from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) have been refusing to pay licensing fees, a tax official said Thursday, as a Senate panel studied if internet gambling should still be allowed in the country.
Among the 11 current internet gambling licensees, only 3 POGO firms are paying the 5 percent Philippine franchise tax, said Arnel Guballa, deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
"Their (POGOs) assertion is that, 'We are offshore, we are outside the Philippine jurisdiction,' but the contention of BIR is, 'Since you registered with PAGCOR, then you are under Philippine law,'" Guballa told senators.
It was the Office of the Solicitor General that said that "foreign-based operators are not liable to 5 percent (franchise tax)," said Dave Fermin Sevilla, who chairs PAGCOR's Anti-Money Laundering Supervision and Enforcement Department.
In 2019, Solicitor General Jose Calida said that POGOs cannot be taxed because offshore operations are considered outside the Philippines. Economic officials had refuted Calida's opinion, saying the Department of Finance has been pushing to tax the Chinese-run sector.
Duterte won’t abolish POGO: We need it
Despite warnings – including from Beijing – that it can worsen criminality, Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO) will continue because “it is good for the country,” President Duterte said yesterday.
The Chief Executive made his position clear at a press briefing last night at Malacañang when asked about his stand on the controversial POGO, which has been flourishing in the country, employing thousands of foreigners mostly mainland Chinese.
Duterte noted that the livelihood of many people would be affected if he bans online gambling.
“I decide we need it. Many will lose livelihood. It’s government-controlled,” he added.
But he warned operators of POGO hubs to pay the right taxes or be “shuttered. “
“To the concessionaire, if you commit a mistake, you will be shuttered. Then we will talk,” the President said.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo previously said online gambling, which employs about 130,000 Chinese nationals in the Philippines, was one of the topics tackled during Duterte’s bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week in Beijing.
Panelo said Xi expressed appreciation for the Philippines’ move to suspend new POGO applications but said China would appreciate more if online gambling operations were completely halted. Xi had earlier warned Duterte of online gambling’s role in spawning crimes specifically money laundering, as he emphasized that all forms of gambling are illegal in China.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue has reported P200 million in taxes from foreigners working for POGOs. The finance department previously said the government forgoes about P24 billion a year for every 100,000 POGO workers who do not pay taxes.
Duterte’s pronouncement came on the heels of assertion by some of his officials that the local economy has been benefiting significantly from online gambling. Based on Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corp. projections, revenues from POGO – especially from royalties and licensing fees – could reach P8 billion this year from last year’s P6 billion.
Earlier, Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana said Beijing has no authority to order the Philippine government to shut down POGO operations employing Chinese nationals.
“They cannot dictate on us. Those are sovereign decisions. That is where we stand,” Sta. Romana said in Beijing during Duterte’s China visit.
Duterte won’t stop Pogos
President Rodrigo Duterte will not close down Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos), his spokesman said Sunday, noting the income the government earns from their operations.
“He (Duterte) will not suspend it nor will he stop it,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in an interview on Radyo Inquirer on Sunday.
Panelo, who is also the President’s chief legal counsel, said taxes collected from Pogos can help fund different projects and even the government’s response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Ang sabi niya sakin kahapon, maganda yung report ni Pagcor (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.) head, maganda daw ang report sakanya sa okay kailangan talaga natin ng pondo galing diyan (sa Pogos). Marami tayong projects na kailangan natin ng pondo. For instance, the salary of the nurses, teachers, madami. Meron na naman tayong problema sa coronavirus. Pwede ring pagkunan natin,” he said.
“Lahat yan pwede kasi supposedly nga yung pera na nakukuha natin from whatever sources e para sa gobyerno yon, the government can use that in any undertaking and activity of the government,” he added.
Panelo had earlier said the President would consider suspending Pogo operations should irregularities linked to it further escalate.
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