Chinese President Xi Jinping requests the Philippines end its online gambling licensing program.
During a recent meeting between the two leaders, Chinese President Xi Jinping made an “implied request” to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that Manila shut down its online gambling industry. Salvador Panelo, President Duterte’s spokesperson, announced that President Duterte would most likely study the proposal.
Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators, or POGOs, have long depended on turnover from Chinese gamblers. Gambling services are provided in Mandarin by the tens of thousands of Chinese nationals who live in the Philippines.
While President Jinping’s request was subtle, made as an offhand comment, during a separate press conference the week before, a government spokesperson explicitly called on the Philippines to ban all online gambling. Later, the Philippine ambassador to China announced in a press conference that China cannot control the decisions of the Philippine government.
The Chinese government has been making an effort to curb online gambling across the region, convincing the government of Cambodia to halt its online licensing program and conducting a joint operation with the government of Vietnam to bust a China-facing online gambling operation. Like Cambodia, the Philippines is heavily reliant on Chinese investment.
The boom in online gambling services has brought with it a boom in real estate, driving up prices for rent and stocks in real estate companies, which means that a shutdown of the online gambling sector would have broader effects on the Philippine economy. Panelo said that Duterte would “have to consult with the finance department” when considering the ban.