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China pressures Cambodia and the Philippines to tighten online gambling practices

China is continually toughening its stance against online gambling. Many people have already been arrested in crackdowns on the online gambling industry, which paves the way for a dark future in China as far as online gambling is concerned.

Chinese authorities are now pressuring Cambodia and Philippines to take down gaming operators targeting Chinese nationals.

Cambodia announces ban on online gambling

Cambodia announced last week that a drastic change in online gaming laws was to take immediate effect.

Online gambling companies who sought a license to operate in Cambodia would now all be refused, without exception. Those currently holding a license would be able to operate through to its end but would not be renewed.

The statement made by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said, “foreign criminals have taken refuge in the form of this gambling to cheat and extort money from victims, domestic and abroad, which affects the security, public order and social order”.

Cambodia has already been making arrests linked to online gambling, and according to Khmer Times, Cambodian authorities are reporting that hundreds of arrests have been made. Chinese authorities have been aiding local police, with a recent case in Sihanoukville resulting in the arrest of 127 Chinese nationals.

In this region, and many other parts of Cambodia, online gambling operators specifically target the Chinese market. This factor has been instrumental in China’s recent tougher actions against the industry, with local authorities often making arrests on the orders of China before handing detainees over to Chinese authorities.

Philippines PAGCOR stops issuing POGO licenses

On August 19th, CEO of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) Andrea Domingo announced that a decision had been made to cease granting Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) licenses. This seemingly heralds a period of tighter online gambling controls in the Philippines, although this directive is not as strict as that which Cambodia announced at the same time. Domingo stated that the change was due to national security concerns and potential Chinese spies finding their way into POGO operations.

There are currently just 58 POGO licensed operators, which means the impact of this change will be somewhat limited. Less than 10 new licenses have been issued in the last two years and PAGCOR said it stopped approving new licenses a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, China has voiced its approval of these measures, and those of Cambodia. In a press conference, Geng Shuang, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said China highly appreciates Cambodia’s actions and the Philippine changes were also appreciated.

China and its influence

China’s power and influence in the region has helped facilitate these changes in Cambodia and the Philippines, with borders proving no barrier to China’s commitment to protecting the interests of its citizens.

Local police in neighbouring countries will, in most circumstances respond with compliance whenever Chinese authorities request arrests or ask for prisoners to be extradited to China. This fact consistently discourages companies from actively targeting Chinese customers outside of China and renders any business model based on this principle to be unviable.

In addition to giving approval to Philippine plans to cease renewing offshore licenses, China has also offered further verbal guidance on the issue to encourage stricter rules.

Geng Shuang has said, “We hope the Philippines will go further and ban all online gambling”, adding that online gambling is “the most dangerous tumour in modern society detested by people all across the world”. These strong words elicited a response from the Philippines, which claimed President Rodrigo Duterte would decide on any total ban. If recent events are anything to go by, he will likely be helped by China to come to the right decision.

Article by Craig Bradshaw


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