Human trafficking is a heinous crime affecting millions worldwide, exploiting vulnerable individuals for profit and causing immeasurable harm.
While traditionally associated with physical locations, such as brothels or illicit establishments, the rise of online casinos has brought new challenges in combating human trafficking. As responsible members of society, it is crucial for online casinos to actively participate in preventing this crime.
Earlier on May 31, Philippine lawmakers put a target on online casino operators’ backs as the concern of human trafficking became extremely worrisome. This after an accredited Philippine Offshore Gambling Operator or POGO has been found harboring more than one-thousand victims of human trafficking across Asia.
The POGO was committing the crime under the nose of the regulating body, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). Whenever PAGCOR inspects the site every week, the victims would be hidden in a dormitory.
And with that, Sen. Risa Hontiveros has urged banning POGOs.
“POGOs provide that legal layer to these hubs, and the operations of these hubs remain beyond regulatory scrutiny.
“If POGOs are allowed to continue business as usual, the crypto-scams and human trafficking operations will also grow at a frightening rate our government will never be able to overtake,” the senator said during the session of the Philippine Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality.
So how do we prevent this? Here are simple things that digital casino operators must do to help mitigate human trafficking:
Strengthening Customer Verification Processes
One of the first lines of defense against human trafficking in online casinos is implementing robust customer verification procedures. By verifying the identity and age of players, online casinos can ensure compliance with legal requirements. This can also prevent the participation of individuals who may be coerced or underage.
Implementing stringent age verification mechanisms and requesting government-issued identification documents are vital to deter potential traffickers from exploiting vulnerable individuals.
Licensed online gambling sites like OKBet implement the Know Your Customer (KYC) verification by PAGCOR. The process is to ensure players are not criminals trying to use the platform for their criminal activities.
Training Staff to Recognize Signs of Trafficking
Empowering casino staff with knowledge and awareness is instrumental in identifying potential instances of human trafficking. By conducting comprehensive training programs that educate employees, particularly those in customer support roles, on recognizing the signs of human trafficking.
Furthermore, training should cover indicators such as fearful behavior, physical or emotional abuse, inconsistent personal information, or suspicious transactions. By equipping staff with the tools to identify red flags, online casinos can play an active role in detecting and reporting potential cases.
Collaborating with Law Enforcement Agencies
Building strong partnerships with local and international law enforcement agencies is crucial for effective prevention and intervention. Also, online casinos should establish channels for sharing information and cooperating on investigations related to human trafficking.
By promptly reporting any suspicious activities or transactions, online casinos can support law enforcement agencies in their efforts to dismantle trafficking networks and bring perpetrators to justice.
Monitoring and Reporting Suspicious Activities
Online casinos should employ advanced monitoring technologies to detect unusual patterns or behaviors within their platforms. For instance, high-value transactions, inconsistent betting patterns, or accounts linked to illicit activities should be promptly flagged and reported to the appropriate authorities. By proactively monitoring and reporting suspicious activities, online casinos can disrupt the operations of human traffickers and contribute to dismantling their networks.
Advocating for Stronger Regulations
Online gambling platforms should actively engage with industry associations. Moreover, they must also do so with regulatory bodies, and policymakers. This is to advocate for stronger regulations and policies addressing human trafficking.
Support initiatives that seek stricter licensing procedures, increased penalties for involvement in illegal activities, and enhanced collaboration between regulatory bodies and law enforcement agencies. In addition, by collectively working towards comprehensive and effective regulations, the entire online gambling industry can contribute to preventing human trafficking.
In conclusion, the rise of human trafficking within the online casino industry is an important concern that demands immediate action. Recent incidents involving Philippine Offshore POGOs have emphasized the urgent need for stricter measures and increased vigilance. To prevent human trafficking in online casinos, operators must do their part. Be part of the solution, not the problem.