Phillipines passes new law to ban online gambling operation

On Tuesday, Pasig City in the Philippines passed a ban on all forms of online gambling operations, which will take effect in 2024, giving them a period of one year to completely seize all online gambling activities.

“It will be unlawful for owners, operators, and support providers of such establishments to continue operations from the effectivity of the ordinance, and to continue to operate after Dec. 31, 2023,” read the ordinance.

Pasig City is situated in the capital region of Metro Manila and is known for upholding high moral values; hence, this ordinance on online gambling operators sprang up as a result of alleged illegalities being conducted through the online medium, particularly by the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO).

According to the ordinance: “In order to promote the objectives of the City Government of Pasig and to repress the evils of online gaming for chance, which undermines the social, moral, and economic growth and development of our society, and which has proven to be inimical to Pasig City and its constituents, to the morals and to the safety as well as security of those living in the city, especially in light of the recent spate of abduction cases involving employees of the establishments and the social costs in general of online gambling, it is highly imminent that the City Government of Pasig must act on the disallowance of these kinds of establishments to curb its detrimental effects.”

The Mayor of Pasig City, Vico Sotto, also stated in an interview that the city decided to pass an ordinance this time instead of resolutions to the problems facing the online gambling section because they wanted to completely eliminate the law’s impeding factors. Sotto also noted that this plight has been in his pursuit since his first term, although he could not achieve getting an ordinance because a majority of the city council did not buy the idea at the time.

“We look at the social ills of the gambling establishments, e-games, e-bingo, and Pogo in particular, and we also look at them particularly,” he said.

“The main difference, this time as compared to my first term is that I have the support of the city county this time, and we agreed that it is about time that we end operations of this establishments.”

Sotto also addressed the issue of unemployment that may arise following the ban on online gambling operations.

“Considering all the social ills and the negative effects, that is a very small price to pay for the city,” he said.
For the Pogos, I don’t think they are employing very many.”

The state city’s revenue is also set to decline following this ordinance, although Sotto still upholds his view that even though the city will lose about three million pesos, the ordinance is worth the loss.

“For us, this is not about the revenue that the city can or will get,” he said.”This is about preventing the social ills in the first place.”

The mayor went further to highlight the many compelling reasons why the ordinance is highly necessary, giving the instance of a woman who four times sold her own child to cover gambling debts.

“While we have seen the social ills of these forms of gambling (have you heard of the mother who pawned her child?), that’s not all,” Mr. Sotto said on his Twitter.

Sotto debunked claims that this ordinance might be unfair to operators. He explained that if the operators are free from these imposed claims of violating laws, they will not be paying the city government officials huge sums every time they come for license renewal.

“We found out that they have an annual budget for our officials,” Mr. Sotto tweeted. “I take it as a personal insult when there are ‘alleged’ offers of bribes every permit renewal season. If their operations are legitimate, why should there be placements like these?”

It is also important to note that the ordinance contains a fine of PHP 5,000 (US$89.60) and possibly a one-year jail sentence for violators of the new ban.

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