Controversy Arises Over Link Between Gambling Apps and Digital Banks in the Philippines

Government Takes Action to Investigate Digital Bank Gambling Links in the Philippines

Worries about the connection between digital banks and gambling in the Philippines have prompted government intervention. Erwin Tulfo, Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, along with other lawmakers, recently filed House Resolution (HR) 1464 in an effort to determine if there are any illegal activities occurring.

The resolution aims to grant the government the authority to investigate the legality of gambling links found on at least one digital bank’s platform. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the country’s central bank, currently licenses six digital banks: Maya Digital Savings Bank, Uno, Tonik, CIMB, Union Bank, and GoTyme Bank. Among these banks, only Maya has connections to gambling apps on its platform.

Lawmakers are keen to ascertain whether the BSP is aware of the connection between the digital bank and gambling activities. They believe that if these gambling apps are operating within the bounds of the law, it raises questions about the effectiveness of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) in appropriately monitoring and regulating them.

The investigation also delves into whether bank regulators should allow the inclusion of gambling apps within the digital platform of a savings bank. It raises concerns about potential impacts on financial stability, responsible gambling, and consumer welfare.

The filing of HR 1464 signifies the government’s commitment to addressing potential risks associated with the convergence of digital banking and gambling. With the increasing prevalence of digital banking platforms, lawmakers are keen on ensuring that regulatory authorities are equipped to safeguard the financial sector’s integrity.

Additionally, concerns about online gambling extend beyond the digital banking sector. Senator Win Gatchalian has been leading a call for the expulsion of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) from the country in a bid to combat transnational crimes. The National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) has expressed support for this, stating that shutting down or permanently suspending POGO operations and related illegal activities significantly outweighs the revenue the segment provides.

Recent revelations about Chinese nationals working for POGOs acquiring government ID cards illegally have intensified worries about the infiltration of organized crime linked to POGOs. PAGCOR has asserted that it is cracking down on POGOs through its new Internet Gaming Licensing Regulations framework, mandating online operators to apply for a new license. However, the extent of illegal activities associated with entities like Smart Web raises questions about the thoroughness of these measures.