De Lima seeks probe into rise of casinos in PH

MANILA, Philippines – Casino resorts and online gaming are on the rise in Metro Manila, and opposition Senator Leila de Lima wants to reexamine the laws governing them amid the attached risks.

De Lima filed a resolution urging the Senate games and amusement committee to look into and possibly revise laws regulating the operations of casino-entertainment resorts, online gaming sites, and junket casinos in the country. (READ: [FAST FACTS] What you need to know about the Philippine casino industry)

She said the gaming industry may make the country more "susceptible to money laundering, fraud, and other illegal activities." (READ: Silent addiction: How Filipinos fall prey to the online gambling market)

"The possibility of money laundering also concerns some industry players as the shroud of Internet anonymity coupled with loose regulatory policies may leave the industry susceptible to fraud and other illicit activities associated with high-stakes gambling," De Lima said.

She cited the incident where online gaming industry expert Wally Sombero was caught handing over payoff money to Bureau of Immigration officials for the release of 1,316 undocumented Chinese arrested for illegally operating online gambling in the country in 2016.

There are a total of 4 integrated casino-entertainment resorts operating in Metro Manila, and more are expected to rise despite President Rodrigo Duterte's rhetoric against gambling. 

Meanwhile, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation has authorized 57 Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) to operate in the country.

De Lima, who chairs the Senate social justice, welfare, and rural development committee, underscored the need for the Senate to probe the overall impact of the gambling industry on the country.

De Lima also expressed concern that dealers for online games – including Filipinas – "are placed at even more risk of sexual harassment and exploitation by players online."

"Apart from its purported positive economic impacts, there are nevertheless lingering questions regarding the social costs of the influx and proliferation of integrated casino-entertainment resorts and POGOs within the country," she said.

The senator also filed a resolution to look into the influx of Chinese workers in Metro Manila. (READ: Senators want crackdown vs illegal Chinese workers Rappler.com

 

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.

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