The Philippines Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) says the country’s land-based casinos and online gambling sites remain highly vulnerable to criminal activity.
AMLC Chairman Benjamin Diokno revealed a memorandum of agreement with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, the state gaming regulator and operator known as PAGCOR. Under the arrangement, the two parties will share relevant information to promote closer cooperation.
The latest National Risk Assessment notes a high sectoral money laundering threat among designated non-financial businesses and professions – including casinos, which are highly vulnerable,” Diokno explained.
Diokno said it’s becoming increasingly difficult to properly monitor cashflow through casinos and internet gambling sites due a decrease in transparency regarding high rollers. He says it’s a burdensome task in identifying someone who is truly a high-stakes gambler instead of a person who is funneling funds.
The spread of licensed Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), which primarily target players in China where such gambling is illegal, has only added to the problem.
“This calls for strict enforcement of and compliance to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing policies,” Diokno added. “With internet casinos, junket operations, and reduced transparency of high-rollers, there is much vulnerability in identifying sources and movements of funds.”
There are 60 licensed POGO firms and nearly 70 licensed land-based casinos throughout the Philippines.
Most of the gaming revenue, however, is won at Manila’s four large-scale integrated resorts: Resorts World, Okada, City of Dreams, and Solaire. All four of those casinos have already registered with the AMLC.
In the US, casinos must file a Currency Transaction Report (CTR) for anyone transacting $10,000 or more in a 24-hour period. They additionally are required by law to file a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) should they suspect any wrongdoing – an example being “structuring,” the act of making several transactions to stay below the CTR threshold.
In contrast, Filipino casinos are only required to report to AMLC transactions of PHP5 million ($98,100) or more.