The Philippine regulator of casinos and gaming has issued a warning to the public not to take part in unlicensed online gambling or bingo games. In a Monday notice, it said such activity has been observed during the Covid-19 emergency, but is commonly a method used to defraud consumers of money by routes including theft of personal information.
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) said in its statement that it was “committed to the prosecution of persons involved in such illegal activities, because of the strong link” between illegal gambling and organised criminals “who are also engaged in credit card fraud, identity theft, [and] money laundering,” among other things.
Pagcor said it had received information that “certain persons” had been taking advantage of the “uncertainties brought by the Covid-19 pandemic,” in order to “scam your money, steal your financial information, and use your identity for illegal purposes,” via illegal bingo games and Internet-delivered gambling “using Facebook,” a social-media platform, to “promote such illegal activities”.
No person or entity other than those licensed by “Pagcor and other government agencies” may operate gambling in the Philippines, said the notice.
Pagcor added in its advice to consumers: “Betting on such illegal gambling activities is also a crime.”
The bricks and mortar casinos in Metro Manila and some other areas have been closed since mid-March as a pandemic countermeasure and were expected to remain shut until at least the end of Tuesday (June 30). Some casinos in other parts of the nation were permitted to reopen in early June, provided safety measures were in place.
In early May it emerged that Pagcor had authorised a “partial resumption” of business – with safeguards and with the caveat any outstanding taxes or fees had been paid – in the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) sector. POGOs are licensed locally-based online gaming operators serving overseas customers. Pagcor said the move to allow a partial restart of the POGO sector was to help the national government “raise necessary funds to combat the novel coronavirus 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic”.