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GOV’T TOLD: PROBE ONLINE GAMBLING’S ‘SOCIAL COSTS’

The government should study the social costs of online gambling in the Philippines, not just the social costs of allowing Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) in the country.

This was stressed on Friday by Manila 6th District Rep. Benny Abante, Jr., who said the recent spotlight on the negative impact of POGOs “should also be cast on all forms of online gambling in the country.”

“If we insist on weighing the social costs of particular industries against the revenues they earn, then let’s make an earnest effort to study the effects of online gambling on our citizens.”

Abante stressed: “Since Filipinos are the targets of online gambling platforms, it is clear that the social costs of electronic gambling are greater than that of POGOs.”

The legislator pointed out that though POGOs operate in the Philippines, these cater to players abroad, unlike online games that target Filipino customers, such as virtual poker, casinos, sports betting, and e-bingo.

“The recent Senate hearing on POGOs highlighted the fact that online gambling is illegal in China. Our colleagues in the Senate even asked if allowing POGOs in the country made us the accomplices of these POGOs that were catering to gamblers in China, and clearly, the answer is yes,” said Abante.

“But what about our own people? By allowing online gambling here,” lamented Abante, “are we not acting as enablers of a vice that has proven to be so destructive and counterproductive in China that its government has outlawed it?”

In a statement issued by the Spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy, “according to Chinese law and regulations, Chinese citizens gambling overseas, opening casinos to attract Chinese citizens as primary customers constitute gambling crimes.” 

“The Department of Finance is correct that it is difficult to quantify the social costs of the POGO industry.”

The statement further stated that “criminal liability can be pursued in accordance with the provisions of the Criminal Law of China. The Chinese government and law enforcement have been taking tough measures to combat all forms of gambling.”

According to Abante: “The Department of Finance is correct that it is difficult to quantify the social costs of the POGO industry.”

“I surmise that the same could hold true for the local online gambling industry. But if we insist on weighing the social costs of particular industries against the revenues they earn, then let’s make an earnest effort to study the effects of online gambling on our citizens,” said the lawmaker.

“As far as I am concerned, though, you cannot put a price on the lives of individuals and families that have been ruined by online gambling. Ang ibang mga OFW, mga seaman, dahil naa-adik sa sugal, wala nang maipadala sa kanilang mga pamilya. The more gambling becomes accessible, the easier it is to fall prey to its poisoning effects. Yan ang epekto ng online gambling.”

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