Philippine Senator Joel Villanueva Intensifies Push for POGO Ban Amid Growing Crime Concerns

In a significant legislative push, Philippine Senator Joel Villanueva is advocating for his 2022 bill that seeks to ban Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) and all forms of online gambling in the country. Initially filed in September 2022, Villanueva’s Senate Bill 1281 aims to abolish all existing legislation that grants regulatory powers over online gambling and criminalizes such activities.

Under the current provisions of SB1281, individuals found guilty of placing, receiving, or unknowingly transmitting a bet or wager online could face severe penalties, including a prison sentence of up to six months or a fine amounting to PHP500,000 (approximately £6,736.74/€7,943.75/8,524.33). Corporations involved in gambling services could incur even stiffer penalties; presidents, directors, or managers could face up to five years in jail in addition to the substantial fine.

Villanueva has voiced significant concerns regarding the proliferation of POGOs, citing solid evidence connecting the industry to serious crimes, including kidnapping, murder, and human trafficking. “There should be no debate that the social costs of gambling far outweigh any benefits. We must put an end to this once and for all,” Villanueva stated in a report to the Philippines News Agency. He further criticized the local regulatory body, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), for its failure to provide effective oversight and eliminate criminal activities within the sector.

Despite the urgency and seriousness with which Villanueva has pursued this legislation, SB1281 has seen little progress through the Senate’s committees for Ways and Means, and Public Order and Dangerous Drugs since its introduction over a year ago.

In other developments, FanDuel continues to solidify its market dominance in New York’s sports betting scene. According to the latest weekly revenue report, FanDuel was responsible for over half of the state’s sports betting revenue and over a third of total handle for the week ending on June 23. Punters wagered $131.1 million through FanDuel during this period, resulting in a gross gaming revenue of $19.7 million, which equates to roughly 51% of the state’s total for the week. This remarkable performance showcases a 15% hold, significantly higher than the national average of around 9.1% for 2023.

DraftKings, FanDuel’s closest competitor, saw $118.0 million staked and a gross gaming revenue (GGR) of $10.

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.9 million. New York’s sports betting market has experienced a surge in activity, with Copa América and Euro 2024 introducing a deviation from the typical summer betting lull.

Meanwhile, former New Hampshire Senator Andy Sanborn has been granted an extension until July 18 to sell his Concord Casino. The establishment was shuttered in December 2023 amid an investigation into the alleged misuse of federal pandemic funding. Sanborn is accused of fraudulently obtaining $844,000 in relief aid, a portion of which was spent on luxury vehicles including two Porsches and a Ferrari.

In a separate issue, Sanborn’s gaming and operator licenses are currently suspended. He initially had a six-month deadline starting from January 1 to sell the property, with failure to do so resulting in a two-year revocation of his licenses. Although the extension provides him additional time, there remains the possibility of further delays extending the deadline to September if a sale is pending. So far, no potential buyers have been disclosed.

Across the globe, Thailand is also tackling a surge in illegal gambling activities. Since the start of Euro 2024 on June 14, the Royal Thai Police have made significant strides in their crackdown, arresting more than 2,600 individuals involved in illegal gambling operations. These arrests include 2,052 bettors, 22 bet collectors, and 39 bookies. Moreover, the police have succeeded in shutting down 142 illicit betting websites, detaining an additional 513 suspects, 63 of whom are accused of operating unlicensed online platforms.

In Brazil, a recent survey conducted by marketing consultancy Ilumeo reveals widespread interest in sports betting. As the government navigates the legislative framework for a proposed launch on January 1, 2025, it’s noted that 83% of the 2,327 Brazilians surveyed are either currently betting or would consider doing so. Among these, 47% are already engaged in gambling, while 36% expressed interest in participating. The primary motivation for 62% of respondents is the potential for financial gain through winnings, while 37% view gambling as a form of entertainment.

On the flip side, 17% of respondents indicated they would not participate in betting. Of those, 39% cited a lack of confidence in their gambling skills, while 27% doubted their chances of making a profit.

Overall, these unfolding stories capture the dynamic and often contentious world of gambling, highlighting legislative battles, market dominance, and the ongoing fight against illegal activities globally.

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