Pagcor: Former cabinet official facilitated granting gaming licenses to illegal Pogos

Pagcor: Former cabinet official facilitated granting gaming licenses to illegal Pogos

THE Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) said on Saturday, June 29, 2024, that a former cabinet official facilitated the grant of gaming licenses to illegal Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (Pogo), which have been recently raided by authorities.

In a statement, Pagcor chairman and chief executive officer Alejandro Tengco said he will reveal the identity of the former high-ranking official.

He urged those investigating the suspicious activities of the raided Pogos to also look into the role of former officials and their conduits in granting gaming licenses to firms with dubious backgrounds.

Tengco said he is also willing to reveal circumstances that led to the proliferation of illegal Pogos.

“As a regulator, it is our mandate to ensure that only those with valid licenses are allowed to operate all forms of gambling and gaming activities, whether these are land-based casinos or online platforms,” Tengco said.

“It is in the interest of the government to crack the whip against illegal operators, including the so-called offshore gaming operators or Pogos and their backers, because the criminal activities associated with their illegal operations pose serious threats to our people,” he added.

From 298 Pogos with gaming licenses during the past administration, Tengco said the number decreased to 43 following strict verification after he took office in August 2022.

“What we need to question, in the first place, was how those 298 Pogo licensees were able to secure their licensees in the past because clearly, during our cleansing process, we found most of them to be ineligible and outright suspicious,” he said.

“We are also ready to reveal the roles of other controversial individuals behind these criminal Pogo enterprises," he added.

"In May, the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality launched an investigation into Zun Yuan Technology Incorporated (ZYTI), an illegal Pogo that was raided by authorities in March.

The raid resulted in the apprehension of 800 employees, including approximately 500 foreigners, among whom were 427 Chinese nationals.

The firm was allegedly involved in surveillance activities and hacking of government websites, as well as human trafficking and money laundering.

ZYTI was formerly Hong Sheng Gaming Technology Inc., which was raided by police in February 2023.

The probe is currently centered on the alleged involvement of Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Guo, who is believed to be a Chinese national.

Guo, then a private citizen, represented Hong Sheng Gaming Technology Inc. when it applied for a license to operate in the municipality of Bamban in September 2020.

On June 5, at least 186 foreign and Filipino workers were apprehended during a raid in a 10-hectare Pogo complex in Porac, Pampanga.

Some of the rescued victims, Chinese nationals, bore torture marks in different parts of their bodies. There were also several foreign women who were sexually abused and being sold online through bidding.

The said Pogo firm, Lucky South 99, was raided and shut down on September 17, 2022 also over alleged involvement in illegal activities. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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