China Admires Philippines Ban Of Online Gambling, Calling It A "Tumor"

Casino slot machines. (Photo: Image by Stokpic/Pixabay)

The Chinese have been a major contributor to the growth of the gambling business in the Philippines in recent years. But there's a twist: Beijing just realized it's detrimental to its economy and asked the Philippine government to ban online gambling, even calling it "the most dangerous tumor in modern society."

China said it hopes Philippine lawmakers will put a stop on offshore gambling after the government suspended the issuance of new permits for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO).

China's efforts are in line with the country's clampdown on cross-border gambling, which its finance ministers said provides an avenue for crime syndicates to launder money and illegally recruit workers.

In a media briefing, China's foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said they appreciate the Philippine government's move in denying licenses from foreign gaming applicants. "We hope the Philippines will go further and totally ban all online gambling," Shuang stated.

"Online gambling is the most dangerous tumor in modern society and detested by people all over the world," Shuang said, in reference to an announcement made by Cambodia that it was also banning offshore gaming.

"It's a shared hope that this problem would be effectively dealt with... and create an environment for the development of relations in the region," Shuang said. The Chinese diplomat also disclosed that Cambodia and China would collaborate to strengthen law enforcement and "benefit our peoples."

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation disclosed earlier that it has begun the process of evaluating issues with regards POGO. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and the authorities also said earlier that POGOs located near military barracks might be used for espionage.

PAGCOR has also considered moving Chinese online gaming personnel to self-contained locations, although the Chinese consulate is concerned such a move may violate the legal rights of the Chinese citizens involved. 

"We strongly urge the Philippines to protect the rights and interests of Chinese citizens in the country," the Chinese consulate said. There are currently 58 POGOs permitted by PAGCOR to run their business in the Philippines.

The surge in the number of Chinese visitors to the Philippines began three years ago, which coincided with the popularity of President Rodrigo Duterte, who supported PAGCOR's initiative to legalize online gambling. Since then, the number of licensed Chinese gaming operators grew four-fold to around 110,000 last year, according to government data, making China the largest source of foreign workers in the Philippines.

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