While some Philippine senators persist in advocating for the complete shutdown of the country’s offshore gaming industry, one politician is highlighting the sector’s resurgence under PAGCOR’s revamped Internet Gaming Licensee (IGL) system.

Albay Representative Joey Salceda, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, praised PAGCOR’s success on Tuesday, noting a 71% increase in revenue from IGLs last year compared to 2022, despite issuing fewer licenses.

According to a report by the Philippine News Agency quoted by Inside Asian Gaming, this shift has effectively “changed the landscape” for offshore gaming licenses, as PAGCOR has cracked down on POGOs (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators), ensuring the sector is both controlled and contributory to the economy.

“Since the appointment of Chairman Al Tengco, and later President and COO Amy Eisma, PAGCOR has been updating its policies and practices,” Joey Salceda stated. “The revised regulations for offshore gaming, now termed Internet Gaming Licensees under PAGCOR’s new rules, have markedly enhanced revenue collections, even as the number of total licensees has decreased. Essentially, we are more selective in our licensing, and we also collect more from each licensee.”

Increase In Revenue and Employment

Salceda specifically cited PAGCOR data indicating that Php5.1 billion was collected from 87 licensees in 2023, compared to Php2.99 billion from 158 POGO licensees in 2022. This followed Tengco’s declaration last year that all POGOs would be placed under probation and required to reapply for a new IGL license, aiming to eliminate bad actors.

Addressing recent senatorial calls to abolish all offshore gaming licenses, Salceda remarked, “Regarding a so-called ‘phase-out,’ that’s the kind of phase-out I fully support: You phase out the bad and mediocre licensees. You don’t phase out the entire industry. You enforce the law.”

Salceda also mentioned that IGLs currently employ around 8,500 Chinese workers, a significant reduction from the peak of 200,000 workers—both direct and indirect—under POGO. Out of the 100,000 indirect employees of IGLs today, approximately 25,000 are Filipinos.

“No one talks about it too much, but I think it deserves to be said: It was PAGCOR who initiated action against illegal operations,” Salceda noted, referring to recent raids on unauthorized POGO sites. “I just wish PAGCOR would be more media savvy about their achievements because they are one of the top performers in the government corporate sector right now. And they address sensitive issues that the public should be aware of.”

“PAGCOR has been stricter in enforcing rules on POGOs and is transforming the sector into an industry that generates more jobs for Filipinos and no longer depends solely on Chinese demand or labor,” he added.

Salceda’s endorsement of PAGCOR’s new regime underscores the organization’s efforts to modernize and clean up the offshore gaming sector, positioning it as a more controlled, lucrative, and employment-generating industry within the Philippine economy. Despite the controversy surrounding the industry, these reforms appear to be steering it toward a more sustainable and regulated future.