After a series of cases affecting the reputation of the Philippine gambling stakeholders, the country’s Presidential Office has made a move to improve the image of the national industry. As reported by Asian Gaming Brief (AGB), the Office of the Philippine President has issued a Memorandum Circular for the key governmental agencies to review and assess their regulatory requirements. The directive has also been circulated to the gaming regulator PAGCOR, which is expected to contribute to the President’s goal to have the Philippines removed from the ”grey list” of nations.

”Gray List” Categorization:

As reported by the source, the ”gray list” contains an international categorization of countries assessed as lacking adequate anti-money laundering procedures, as well as poor control of terrorism financing. The President signed the Memorandum Circular of 16 October 2023 to emphasize the critical nature of the issue and request an immediate implementation of the Philippines’ National AML, CTF, and Counter-Proliferation Financing Strategy 2023-2027, according to AGB.

Non-Compliance Allegations:

As reported, the country was included in the gray list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in June 2021 over the Philippine alleged failure to duly follow anti-money laundering and terrorism financing procedures. The FATF report produced at the time indicated the areas where these control procedures needed improvement, such as anti-money laundering and terrorism financing controls referring to the operations of casino junkets. The body reportedly also sought an improved information exchange among various financial institutions for the country to be eligible for the removal from the gray list.

Adequate AML Procedures Required:

For this reason, the Philippine Presidential Office now takes a strategic move to bring the national gaming industry and financial institutions to international compliance. As AGB reports, the FATF continuously monitor the Philippine practices to note that the effectiveness of the said procedures still needs to be enhanced. The international body reportedly remarks that the national regulators need to employ additional efforts to show that supervisory entities are using the anti-money laundering and terrorism financing control tools to ensure the implementation of adequate risk management procedures in susceptible areas.

Philippine Strategic Intent:

These areas have been identified among those associated with casino junkets. Adequate supervision is reportedly required over these operations, as well as those related to non-financial operations and stakeholders. Earlier in 2023, the FATF stated that the national businesses made a continuous progress in line with the action plan tailored for the given purpose. But, AGB reports that the deadlines set in the action plan have now expired to bring to the surface issues still pending to the country. The latest Memorandum Circular sent out from the Presidential Office testifies about the Philippine strategic intent to preserve its image.