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Zona de Azar Philippines – PAGCOR: Crime Syndicates Threaten National Security

Philippines.- June 10, 2024 Philippine gaming regulator PAGCOR said Sunday that legitimate and licensed offshore gaming operators pose no threat to national security, pointing instead to “alien hacking and scam syndicates” as the real danger.

In a statement, the agency added that licensed operators – previously known as POGOs but now referred to as IGLs (Internet Gaming Licensees) – provide important government funding with gross revenues of Php5 billion (US$85 million) generated in 2023.

“To us, the real threat are the alien hacking and scam syndicates who operate underground, and they are the ones that our law enforcement agencies are trying to locate and dismantle,” said PAGCOR Chairman and CEO, Alejandro H. Tengco said. “And we are cooperating fully with the authorities in this regard.”

The PAGCOR chief also called on the public to report suspicious activities in their communities, explaining that such criminal syndicates are usually armed and dangerous.

“We should not blame and demonize our licensed gaming operators because these are closely monitored by PAGCOR,” he said. “Our licensees pay taxes, and they help provide legitimate jobs and livelihood to a lot of people.”

According to Tengco, PAGCOR has begun imbedding monitoring teams in the physical venues of all licensed gaming operators, including land-based casinos, to ensure compliance with the terms of their licenses. Those found violating the provisions of their licenses are issued with fines and, in the most serious offenses, have their licenses revoked and bonds forfeited.

“We do not need to outlaw POGOs; what we need to do is intensify anti-crime operations against suspected alien hackers, against scammers and cyber-criminals who are usually hiding in highly secured buildings and compounds,” he said.

“These criminal syndicates are not engaged in offshore gaming at all, and even if they are, they are doing it illegally.

“So, they are the real threat, and we must go after them with everything that we have.”

PAGCOR’s stance comes after the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) revealed last week that around 100 former POGOs who have had their licensed cancelled are still operating, from a list of 402 cancelled licensees.

Among them is a company called Lucky South 99, whose application to operate as an IGL was denied in May. As reported by the Inquirer, Lucky South 99’s premises in Angeles City was raided by police on 4 June with 187 people arrested.

The premises was reported by the PAOCC to be “the biggest facility in Pampanga with a reported total number of 46 buildings including villas and other structures, as well as a golf course.”

Edited by @pererarte


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