The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) which is the central bank in the Philippines issued a memo to all licensed banks and financial institutions in the country warning them against processing any transactions from illegal online gambling sites.
The memo also informed all BSP-supervised financial institutions (BSFIs) to make note of any illegal transactions that comes to them for processing and immediately inform the authorities and the BSP.
The BSP sent out this memo on Feb 6 and asked all BSFIs to only process gambling related transactions that originate from licensed gambling sites in the Philippines. Licensed online gambling operators in the Philippines are known as referred to as POGOs (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators).
All POGOs are licensed by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) which is the main gaming regulator in the Philippines. PAGCOR brings in a significant amount of revenue from licensed POGOs and is keen on not losing out any revenue to illegal and unlicensed iGaming operators in the country.
BSFIs were also asked to review their risk management policies and ensure that there are no loopholes for illegal gambling transactions to be processed. BFSIs were also asked to review their money laundering and terrorist financing polices that were rolled out earlier under the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Program.
PAGCOR and BSP Working Together
PAGCOR and the BSP are working together to stamp out illegal online gambling operations in the country and offer better protection to local players who are often times exploited by illegal gaming operators.
PAGCOR has also warned Filipino nationals to not play at these illegal gambling sites as they are havens for criminal activities which include credit card fraud and identify theft.
Chuchi G. Fonacier, deputy Governor for the BSP said that it is a crime for any organization or individual in the Philippines to engage in unlicensed online gambling activities in any form.
The BSP is not only concerned about illegal activities that involve credit card fraud and identity theft but also money laundering and terrorist financing. The online casino market in the Philippines continues to grow but there are also suspicions that certain online casinos are being used for money laundering and other illegal activities.
We will have to wait and see if the latest memo from the BSP will reduce the number of illegal gambling sites in the country.