Pagcor is blind about where exactly Pogo players are wagering
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) has no way of exactly knowing where in the world a player of an online game being provided by Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (Pogo) places bets.
During a hearing before the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Pogos, Pagcor’s lack of ability to track specific locations of individual gamblers came to light.
The only way the independent auditor hired by Pagcor can guess which countries use Pogo gambling services is by looking at the currencies being used.
“That was the manifestation, that they [third party auditor] cannot establish the exact country of origin since that is not included in the mirrored data by the Pogo licensees,” said a representative of Pagcor.
According to Pagcor, the third-party auditor only specifies currencies used on Pogo gambling services, specifically from the following 24 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Euro (as a currency, Pagcor did not specify which country), United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, India, Japan, Korea, Myanmar, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, Taiwan, the United States, Vietnam and South Africa.
A total of 47 percent of the total currencies used were the Chinese yuan, making it the highest-used money, with US dollars placing second.
But Pagcor explained that the currency does not necessarily determine the country of origin, as players have the right to choose what currency they wish to play regardless of where they are.
“But did Pagcor endeavor to know [the specific country of origin]?” asked Senator Win Gatchalian.
“For the time being, the data that we have is the currency,” a Pagcor representative said.
“So safe to say that more than 50 percent of revenues are being collected from China,” concluded Gatchalian.
Gatchalian then asked whether Filipinos can bet online, with Pagcor answering no, as Philippine residents are prohibited from taking part in Pogo-related gambling services, and the websites of the offshore gaming operators are blocked in the country’s territory — including for non-Filipinos.
Gatchalian then asked if Pagcor has studied the risks a particular country’s policies can affect Pagcor’s revenues through Pogos, citing China, a country that discourages its citizens from engaging in Pogo-related gambling and even banned domestic gambling operations.
“We do not have data on the possible risks that any policy changes in any particular territory may impose because we do not really look at our revenues from a territorial standpoint, meaning from the data, we get Chinese currency, but we do not attribute that to a particular place only,” said Pagcor.
“You should study the risk that can affect your business, kung totoong negosyante kayo lugi na kayo ng malaki, you’re lucky GOCC [Government Owned and Controlled Corporation] kayo (if you are a real businessman you will lose a lot, you’re lucky you’re a GOCC),” said Gatchalian.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee is investigating Pogos to determine if it should be discontinued or if Pogos can operate crime-free in the country following a string of Pogo-related kidnappings.
The same inquiry also aims to look into the economic side of the Pogo industry.
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