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Marcos Administration Yet to Discuss POGO Ban Amid Economic Concerns

The economic team of the Marcos administration has not yet deliberated on a potential ban on Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), but steps are being taken to address the possible economic impacts of their expulsion. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, who leads the administration’s economic team, confirmed that the matter has not been discussed at their level.

Marcos Administration Yet to Discuss POGO Ban Amid Economic Concerns

Despite this, Balisacan has previously voiced support for banning POGOs, citing the industry's significant social costs that tarnish the country's reputation. “It may be a big number but the cost, particularly the social cost of POGOs, [is] quite high. We’re trying to position our country as a legitimate place for business. We’re trying to attract investors to come, tourists to come. So the least that we want is to have a reputation that we are a haven for criminals, things like that,” Balisacan said during a Palace briefing.

According to the Philippine News Agency, POGO revenues in 2023 reached PHP3.45 billion ($60.87 million), with projections from the Philippine gaming operator and regulator PAGCOR indicating that this income could increase to PHP10.22 billion ($180.26 million) by 2027.

While acknowledging the substantial revenue from POGOs, Balisacan argues that the social costs outweigh the financial benefits. “The social cost [is very high]. The way we view it [at] NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority), [it] may not be worth those revenues because if we succeed in generating those jobs anyway, we will get much more than those we lost,” he added.

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Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma mentioned that his department is already taking measures to mitigate the “negative effects” of a potential POGO ban. Laguesma disclosed that they are currently profiling workers in the industry to prepare for the transition. “I can’t say that we are ready, but we are preparing. We anticipate the possible negative effects, that’s also the reason why we do the profiling. We cannot actually wait for the day of its closure, we should be transitioning also,” Laguesma said.

Calls to ban POGOs have intensified following a series of raids that uncovered various criminal activities associated with the industry, including torture, kidnapping, and other illicit operations. Finance Secretary Ralph Recto has also indicated his intention to recommend to the President to halt POGO operations due to these issues.



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