China want Philippines to stop all forms of online gambling, as it continues cracking down on a practice it says causes illegal outflow of money.
While China appreciates the move to halt the issuance of new licenses, “We hope the Philippines will go further and ban all online gambling,” China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.
The comments are the latest signal that China is mounting pressure on Southeast Asian nations in its effort to stamp out online gambling which it says causes hundreds of millions of yuan to illegally flow out of its economy.
Online and phone betting has exploded in countries such as the Philippines and Cambodia over the last few years due to demand from gamblers in mainland China.
The Philippine sector regulator said that it won’t halt existing online casinos but will stop accepting applications for new licenses at least until the end of the year to review concerns about the burgeoning sector.
“We hope it will further strengthen law enforcement with China and jointly tackle criminal activities including online gambling and cyber fraud,” Geng said. This will help create “peace and stability in the region,” he said and lauded Cambodia’s steps to curb the practice.
More than 50 Philippine offshore gambling operators have received licenses since 2016 after President Rodrigo Duterte started awarding more permits to bolster the sector.
“We will have to ask the president on his policy on this,” Philippines presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo
The industry employs about 138,000 workers, most of them from China. Earlier this month, the Chinese embassy in Manila had urged the Philippines to stop its casinos from hiring Chinese citizens.
The online casinos boom had spurred property prices and boosted consumption especially in and around Manila.
The uncertainties surrounding the online gambling industry have now begun hurting property stocks, with the index tracking the performance of listed builders hitting its lowest level since March.