The coronavirus pandemic has left almost no country unscathed, and the Philiippines is no exception. The Philippine Amusement and Gambling Corporation (PAGCOR) ordered all Philippine Offshore Gambling Operators (POGOs) to shut down during the pandemic, but some are not closing their doors.
POGOs basically operate online casinos which serve other countries, while being based in the Philippines. Since their operations and customer base are abroad, they argue that they are exempt from the casino shutdown which has crippled the global land-based casino industry.
Most POGO operations were moved to work-at-home schemes, but any remaining personnel required to maintain offices, servers, and other equipment must obtain special permits and follow safety protocols.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said that all POGOs must comply with the shutdown order, regardless of home office operations. Nograles said that POGOs are not exempt from the quarantine, arguing that the POGOs are not privately shuttling their office-based employees to and from the office.
In the official statement from PAGCOR, “the skeletal workforce at POGO operating sites are no longer allowed,” and that employees must remain at home during this crisis.
POGOs have had their fair share of controversy. China tried to stop POGOs from offering gambling services to Chinese nationals due to the gambling ban in China. They also accused POGOs of mistreating Chinese workers in the Philippines, while apparently ignoring the hypocrisy of Chinese sweatshops and child labor in China proper.
PAGCOR stood up for POGOs then, but now the regulators are trying to put a stop to spread of the coronavirus, and that means all workers must remain at home, period.
But POGOs remain adamant about the necessity of their operations in order to maintain their livelihood. With the shutdown of the corrupt Cambodian casino industry, business in the POGO industry exploded.
And while the money is flowing in the offshore gaming industry in the Philippines, the POGO companies simply want to make hay while the sun shines.
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