Philippine authorities said Friday they arrested 342 Chinese staff in a raid on an unlicensed gambling operation, a part of a crackdown on illegal migration and illicit gaming sector that’s being fed by mainland China’s appetite for betting.
Licensed online gaming operations launched in 2016 have been a boon in bringing money to the Philippine financial system; however, illegal businesses attracting massive numbers of Chinese migrants have mushroomed, due largely to vested interests, corruption, and weak legislation enforcement.
Illegal operations far outnumber those being regulated and pay no tax. Law enforcement our bodies and the Chinese authorities suspect some are fronts for crime, along with cash laundering.
The Chinese arrested late Thursday had been at a registered gambling agency that had yet to obtain a permit from the state gaming regulator.
“We had reason to suspect that the corporate is a front for illegal cyber actions and investment scams,” stated Fortunato Manahan, chief of the Bureau of Immigration’s intelligence division.
Although Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has good connections with China, where gambling is banned, he has refused its request to halt gaming operations that cater to mainland Chinese.
Chinese gaming corporations and their employees have been censured for driving up an office and residential rent, so much that Makati City, Manila’s major enterprise center, has banned the issue of new licenses to gaming corporations.
In August, Cambodia heeded Chinese pressure to ban online playing, which has attracted Chinese funding as well as crime to the nation.