By Joann Villanueva
MANILA — The booming offshore gaming industry in the Philippines is seen to bring in additional PHP8 billion in revenues in 2019 as the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) gets more familiar with the industry.
In her speech during the opening ceremony of the first-ever Philippine Asian Gaming Expo (PAGE) at the SMX in Pasay City, which will be held until July 14, 2019, Pagcor Chairman Andrea Domingo said the expected collection from Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO) this year will be on top of the PHP12 billion collected from 2016 to 2018.
She explained that in the previous years, the government was only able to collect about PHP56 million annually from the sector because the regulator “had a hard time to fully understand what the operator is, and what the service providers are, and how we can have an audit platform that will be independent and will assure us that the government is collecting the proper revenues.”
“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,” he said.
On Wednesday, officials from various government agencies like Pagcor, the Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) signed a joint memorandum circular aimed at leveling the playing field through the more stringent implementation of labor regulations on foreigners working in the Philippines.
This is in line with the government’s enhanced efforts to collect correct income taxes and register all foreign workers in the country.
Domingo explained that as the regulator of the domestic gaming industry, Pagcor does not only make sure that all stakeholders are legally operating in the country but also to help them in their operations.
She said Pagcor officials continue to look for ways on how to aid POGO to “set up business here so that they are able to find out that it is more convenient, more business wise, more suitable and desirable for them to be legalized rather than to go and remain illegal.”
“I think in this portion of the world, we were able to successfully convince about 59 operators to get into the Philippines. We have a very good model now. We do not segregate the operators from the service providers to circumvent revenue collection,” she said.
The Pagcor chief said the situation has changed because the Philippines is not considered as the illegal gambling capital of the world anymore.
“Now everybody is looking at the Philippines as somebody who has actually done a very good intervention in the offshore gaming sector of our industry and are now looking into our models,” she said.
In an interview by journalists, Domingo assured the POGO that the government will not collect taxes more than what is necessary.
She said the rise of the POGO industry has benefited the real estate and the services sector and the government will not do anything excessive to damage these gains.
“I’m sure that they are all very intelligent, mature people. That they will not overtax so that we lose whatever good there is,” she said.
“If you kill it over unreasonable steps, then you lose everything. So we have to maintain it while observing everything that is legal. We also make it a good place to invest in,” she added. (PNA)