Senator Joel Villanueva has passionately urged his colleagues in the Philippine Senate to rally behind Senate Bill 1281, which seeks to banish all forms of online gambling from the Philippines, encompassing the operations of former Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs).

Concerns over criminal allegations:

In a recent and fervent statement, Senator Villanueva emphasized the imperative for the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) to take resolute action against POGOs. He pointedly referenced compelling evidence linking these operators to heinous crimes such as human trafficking, fraud, and other illicit activities.

Senator Villanueva chastised Pagcor for what he views as its failure to regulate POGOs and ensure stringent compliance with legal standards effectively. He cited instances where former POGO licensees were found engaging in unlawful operations despite being under regulatory supervision.

As GGRAsia reports, Senate Bill 1281, initially introduced by Senator Villanueva in September 2022, proposes robust measures to combat online gambling. It advocates for penalties including imprisonment for up to six months or fines up to Php500,000 (US$8,500) for individuals involved in online gambling activities.

Senator Villanueva’s legislative proposal extends beyond the scope of former POGOs to encompass a sweeping prohibition of all forms of online gambling. This broad approach reflects his deep-seated concerns regarding the societal and ethical implications associated with these activities.

Support for worker transition:

Senator Villanueva underscored the importance of implementing comprehensive government support measures, recognizing the potential economic repercussions, particularly for the approximately 22,000 Filipinos employed in legal offshore gaming operations. These measures aim to mitigate the impact on affected workers should a ban on online gaming be enacted.

Contrary to arguments highlighting revenue contributions from legitimate offshore gaming operators, Senator Villanueva emphasized the profound social costs associated with gambling. He argued that these societal burdens outweigh any economic benefits derived from the industry.

Senator Villanueva’s advocacy aligns with broader calls for reform within the Philippine gaming sector, aiming to safeguard public welfare and promote ethical business practices among gaming operators. His stance reflects a commitment to uphold moral standards and protect vulnerable sectors of society from the adverse effects of gambling.

According to Inside Asian Gaming, Senator Joel Villanueva’s unwavering advocacy for Senate Bill 1281 underscores his dedication to curbing the proliferation of online gambling in the Philippines. His impassioned stance reflects deep-rooted concerns over criminal associations and regulatory deficiencies within the gaming sector. By advocating for a comprehensive ban, Senator Villanueva seeks to address these pressing issues and safeguard the welfare of the Filipino people.