THE Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) is studying the economic effects of a prospective government decision to close down Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs), the central bank chief said on Tuesday.

“I already asked AMLC team as well as our financial stability team as to the impact of discontinuing of POGO in the Philippines. What’s the impact on the real estate, what’s the impact on the economy…” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said in an economic forum in Manila on Tuesday.

“What if, all of a sudden, they pack up and leave? What will be the impact of that on the property sector plus also the food industry, the restaurants? So this is part of my job as BSP governor,” he added.

“It’s not really an investigation. It’s a study for the guidance of the Monetary Board and the AMLC,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the event.

There are 60 licensed POGOs in the country but only 48 are operational, a Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. representative said during a House of Representatives hearing on the agency’s 2020 budget.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue started collecting taxes from foreign workers employed by POGOs in early July and ordered the companies to remit withholding taxes from such workers by Aug. 10.

China last week asked the Philippines to ban all forms of online gambling. — Mark T. Amoguis