A Bad Bet: The Dangers of Unregulated Online Gambling

By Roy Tomandao

Despite renewed efforts to quash illegal gambling in the country, unlicensed online betting sites are still on the rise. This is a matter of national interest, because losing players to unregulated gambling also means less revenue for an industry that generates a substantial number of jobs, boosts tourism and pays one of the major government revenue shares.

Illegal gambling operators expand their market by boasting of few or no restrictions in the use of their platforms, including allowing minors and students to participate in online gambling.

In contrast, betting sites licensed by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) strictly follow the Know Your Customer verification process to ensure that only those authorized by law can actually gamble.

By disregarding the rules and standards set by PAGCOR, the lives of people at risk of compulsive gambling are disrupted, undermining the overall integrity of such a promising industry.

In addition to this, malicious entities also create fake websites that deliberately imitate government-accredited online casinos to steal both their credibility and their players. As these still operate without state approval, they do not comply with any laws or regulations, including their tax obligations.

For example, OKBet, a local gaming platform licensed and regulated by PAGCOR, recently discovered an alarming number of fake websites disguised as its online sportsbooks. These malicious pages use domain names that are very close to the brand. OKBet then reminded the public to only access its official website through the correct web address, www.OKBet.com.

The company has also warned its player base that falling victim to these bogus websites could lead to phishing attacks or breaches of their data privacy. Illegal operators behind such schemes can use personal information given up by users for other scams, like identity theft and credit card fraud.

In addition to the aforementioned risks, these websites will eventually be shut down by the authorities for their violations, and any funds that users may have deposited in their accounts will consequently be lost without hope of compensation.

Last September, PAGCOR reminded the public that gaming entities that do not pass the application process and do not meet the documentary and financial requirements cannot be classified as legal online gaming operators.

That said, the law allows users who are at least 21 years old to participate in online gambling using only government-approved platforms. The official list can be viewed at www.PAGCOR.ph.