The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) has issued a stern warning to online gamblers regarding the proliferation of illegal gambling websites that falsely present themselves as authorized and approved sites. Pagcor’s chairman and CEO, Alejandro Tengco, has urged players to exercise caution when gambling online and to verify the regulator’s list of approved websites before placing bets.
Pagcor has observed a rising trend of unlicensed websites misusing the Pagcor logo without authorization in an attempt to deceive players. Only operators holding valid licenses from Pagcor are permitted to feature the regulator’s logo on their websites.
Tengco emphasized that Pagcor is taking action against these rogue websites and is collaborating with the Philippine National Police, the Department of Information and Communication Technology, and the National Bureau of Investigation to monitor and combat these illegal operators. He stated, “We have been able to shut down most of these illicit websites. However, some of them are able to immediately create new ones. We really need the public’s cooperation and vigilance to help us weed out these scammers.”
Pagcor is also working closely with law enforcement agencies and payment providers to explore the possibility of blocking payments to these illegal websites. Tengco indicated that they would continue to pursue unauthorized sites that have not been blocked or taken down. Another option being considered is creating a landing site that redirects bettors to a website warning them about accessing illegal gambling sites.
Pagcor’s Ongoing Efforts to Combat Illegal Gambling
This is not the first time Pagcor has issued a warning about unlicensed gambling sites. In June, the regulator flagged an illegal website based in the United States. Starspangled200.org was being used as a link to an illegal gambling site operating in the Philippines. Despite its initial innocuous purpose, the website’s URL redirected visitors to Globeinternational.info, a site associated with illegal gambling activities.
In recent months, Pagcor and has been proactive in its efforts to clamp down on illegal gambling. The regulator has collaborated with other government and law enforcement agencies to establish offices within an accredited hub. Operators now face increased compliance inspections and are required to submit reports to enforcement agencies for further investigation. Pagcor has also pledged to impose heavy penalties on operators found in violation of regulations.
The Changing Landscape of Offshore Gambling in the Philippines
In August, Pagcor introduced a new regulatory framework for offshore gaming licensees, which took effect in July. This initiative is part of inter-agency efforts to combat illegal offshore activities in the country. Under the new framework, licensees and service providers are declared probationary and must reapply for approval from Pagcor to continue operating in the country by September 17.
Operators and online casino providers that have been operating illegally will not be considered for new licenses. Additionally, Pagcor has taken legal action against 33 offshore gambling licensees for unpaid license fees totaling PHP2.02 billion (£28.4 million/€33.2 million/$35.6 million). These operators, licensed during the previous administration, have allegedly failed to pay their license fees for over a year.
Chairman Tengco’s Involvement in Missing Performance Bond Case
In the midst of these developments, Chairman Tengco has become embroiled in a case related to a missing performance bond dating back to July 2022. Local media reports have linked Tengco and other current and former Pagcor personnel to the alleged disappearance of a PHP75 million performance bond posted by an e-sabong company.
Charges have been filed against Tengco, including malversation of public funds, qualified theft, and falsification of private and commercial documents before the ombudsman. Tengco has pledged to investigate the claims surrounding the missing performance bond. The case adds another layer of complexity to Pagcor’s ongoing efforts to regulate and oversee the gaming industry in the Philippines.