CNN Business on 15 June reported on POGO – a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator, saying that in the past 3 years, the Philippines has emerged as a major hub for online gaming, according to Filipino officials, attracting more than 100,000 Chinese nationals who work in virtual casinos catering to players back in China where gambling is illegal. In the past year, Beijing has ratcheted up pressure on Manila to shut down the industry, following its success in convincing Cambodia to move toward doing the same last year. The Philippines stopped taking applications for new POGO licences in August 2019, but there are 60 current operators and some 90% to 95% customers are located in China. Laws in the Philippines also ban online casinos from marketing their services to citizens of a country where gambling is illegal, but this rule is ignored by most POGO operators and poorly enforced. The increase in POGOs has also led to a rise in criminality, according to Philippine officials. This includes kidnappings, where employees gamble using loans and, when they fail to pay it back, the loan sharks kidnap them and try to get ransom from their relatives back home.
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