Philippines Deports First Group of Chinese Illegal iGaming Workers

Officials from the Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration have confirmed that the country has begun deporting the Chinese citizens who were detained late last year for working for an illegal online gambling business.

More than 250 people were deported in the period between December 20 and January 17. More than 1,000 Chinese residents are still to be sent home, according to the information provided by the Bureau.

They will, too, be deported as soon as possible. However, they will have to obtain tickets to China and clearances from the National Bureau of Investigation. The Chinese nationals need the clearances as they prove that there are no pending criminal cases against them within the Philippines’ borders.

In November 2016, the Philippine police raided Fontana Leisure Parks & Casino, arresting 1,316 Chinese nationals for working at the property without having the necessary permits. Several of those arrested claimed that they were recruited illegally back home in China.

The detained individuals also faced charges for being involved in the provision of illegal online gambling services.

Located in Clark Field, a former US air base, Fontana Leisure Parks & Casino is owned by Chinese businessman Jack Lam. Following the raid at the property, word spread out that an order for Mr. Lam’s arrest had been issued. The casino owner was accused of trying to bribe top Philippine officials.

Mr. Lam fled from the country in late November but it become known shortly after that he wanted to return and to address issues related to the raid and subsequent closure of his casino operation. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said that the casino tycoon would be allowed to enter the country only to face justice.

The police raid at Fontana Leisure Parks & Casino came as part of President Duterte’s continued crackdown on online gambling. Upon stepping into office last summer, the country’s top official said that he would try his best to stop the proliferation of iGaming services across the country.

After multiple complaints and recommendations that the Philippines would lose substantial revenue contributions from the prohibition of online gambling, the President agreed to certain compromises by allowing offshore operators to set their equipment within the country’s borders. Interested companies will have to obtain licenses from PAGCOR, the local gambling regulator, and to ensure that no Philippine nationals, no matter whether they are located in the Philippines or anywhere else, will not have access to the iGaming products offered by said companies.

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