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Regulators urged: Be fair on POGOs

July 13, 2019

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) called for the fair implementation of government rules on offshore gaming operations as the agency is bullish on hitting its P8-billion target revenue from the industry this year.

“This year we want to collect P8 billion. I think we will make it,” Pagcor Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Andrea Domingo said on the sidelines of the Phil-Asian Gaming Expo in Pasay City on Friday.

Domingo also expressed optimism that the Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) will not be discouraged with the recent effort of the government to collect unpaid income taxes from undocumented foreign workers.

“In the last two years, we have concentrated on making enough rules and regulations to attract those who will otherwise be declared as illegally operating to go into the fold of the law and operate legally,” she said.

The Pagcor chief also appealed to the regulators to implement the rules fairly so as not to discourage potential operators.

“Just do what is right and what should be taxed, (so) that they (operators) could still make a profit enough for them to stay here because there is a lot of competition from other countries. Like in Cambodia, you only have to pay $1,000 and you can put up an operation,” she said.

On Thursday, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said it issued another set of notices that require employers involved in online gaming operations to pay withholding tax discrepancies amounting to about P3 billion.

The amount is on top of the estimated P4.4 billion in total taxes due on notices the bureau issued earlier.

According to the tax bureau, it came up with the said estimates after it matched the list of foreigners hired by local companies with the records provided by government agencies, such as the Department of Labor and Employment, the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Immigration.

Earlier, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said most of these foreign workers were from the POGO industry, to which the government is losing about P2 billion a month for every 100,000 foreign workers.

To date, Domingo said there are about 57 POGOs and about 260-270 service providers operating in the country.

“From 2016 to 2018, we have already gotten 11.9 billion in revenues from these. Whereas before we took over, it was only giving P56 million annually to the national government,” she added.

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