The Philippine gambling sector is undergoing a significant transformation. The most recent development, however, appears to be a step backward, as Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva wants to ban all forms of online gaming.
In Senate Bill 1281, or the proposed Anti-Online Gambling Act, Villanueva stated that the impacts of gambling and online gambling are getting out of hand. He expressed that the issue at hand is not just about money; values and lives are at stake.
Why the Ban?
The Philippines’ gaming industry saw a difficult year in 2022. Multiple major scandals startled the public and prompted politicians and regulators to scrutinize the situation more closely. According to Villanueva, online gaming is unethical and promotes laziness. He stated that Filipinos engaged in “gambling” rather than working.
In the most recent incident, two Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) were forced to cease operations. In a series of raids that resulted in the revocation of an operator’s license, more than 140 foreign workers were rescued from servile working circumstances.
Villanueva’s campaign seeks to prohibit online gambling, betting, and “all forms of online gambling activities.” Aquilino Pimentel III, head of the minority in the Senate, is one of the senators who already support it.
“The measure seeks to prohibit online gambling, making bets or wagers online, and any other type of online gambling,” Villanueva explained. “This is to prevent a decline in morals and values, motivate people to work instead of relying on gambling, eliminate addiction, and save lives.”
E-sabong, an online betting portal for cockfights in the Philippines, has received attention recently due to increased crimes associated with the practice. Despite losing almost $88 million in tax revenue in May, the government took a stand and made E-sabong illegal.
Faced with a strong campaign to prohibit all forms of internet gambling, the nation’s officials appear to be bracing for further defeats as far as gambling is concerned.
Perhaps soon, additional legislators will join the cause. Senator Grace Paul has criticized POGOs, and Senator Ronald de la Rosa is investigating what POGOs accomplish. Before making a decision, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri would like to review the investigation findings.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III has already expressed his support for a ban on POGO operations. He urged the Senate and House majority blocs to collaborate and prioritize this bill. Congress has a moral obligation to outlaw POGOs despite all the negative events. “We must act immediately,” he said.
Will the Ban Suffice?
Before the new Anti-Online Gambling Act can be implemented, the Philippines Senate must approve it. The bill has already received opposition support. Aquilino Pimentel III, minority leader of the Senate, has called for a push from all parties to adopt the law swiftly.
The activities of a few criminals do not indicate that all internet gamblers are wicked. On the other hand, some believe that making online gambling illegal would be cruel. According to studies, legalized gambling generates more tax revenue and allows governments to safeguard consumers better.
Senator Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa is anticipated to discuss POGO operations before the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs. Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri stated that he would wait for the release of Dela Rosa’s report before making a final decision.
In general, though, senators were somewhat more cautious. This makes sense, given that internet gaming is worth billions of dollars. A sudden prohibition would very probably result in significant losses.
Senator Grace Poe has requested a “comprehensive assessment of the societal effects of POGOs” in the Philippines to determine whether or not the country can continue to sustain its activities. Poe stated that she would “immediately draft a resolution about this” so that the chamber and the general public could learn the chamber’s view on POGOs.
Last Updated on by Ryan