An article in the Nikkei Asian Review on 29th July reported that, operating in a legal grey area until 3 years ago, and under a president who once said he “hates” gambling (and who has suspended lottery operations in the country due to “massive corruption”), offshore gaming has since been embraced by the administration of Rodrigo Duterte. Offshore gaming is one of the economy’s fastest-growing sectors, employing over 350,000 people, including around 100,000 mainly Chinese foreign workers, according to estimates. It is fuelled by demand for online gaming from mainland China – where gambling is officially illegal – and the 56 licensed Philippine offshore gaming operators, or POGO, are expected to rake in over $8 billion in revenue this year. However, with few available details surrounding the POGO – not even the names of licensees behind each operator are publicly known – the rapid rise of the offshore gaming industry is also stirring fears that it could turn Manila into a money laundering hub.
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