Philippines Offshore Gaming Operators Close Shop, Flee Country Without Paying Tabs
Philippines Offshore Gaming Operators, popularly referred to as POGO’s have fled the country without paying their outstanding dues. The Philippines Offshore Gaming Operators owe the country an amount of nearly $30 Million in the form of unpaid taxes and dues. The new audit conducted by the Philippines government has put in a shocker of news to the gamblers.
The Philippines Offshore Gaming Operators are licensed under and regulated by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, referred to as PAGCOR. The Commission on Audit of Philippines Central Government in an official statement mentioned that an estimated PHP of 1.365 Billion, i.e. $27 Million is missing from the POGO operators.
PAGCOR regulates every gambling entity in the Philippines that includes commercial casinos, POGO’s and VIP iGaming. PAGCOR also operates its self-operated casinos under the label of Casino Filipino. The findings of missing dues were found out from the audit findings that were made during the annual financial and audit review of PAGCOR.
Why did the POGO’s flee?
China had banned all forms of gambling including offline as well as online. Macau was not covered under the ban as the POGO’s targeted the Chinese high-rolling websites. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte had rejected the call of the Chinese government as POGO’s and casino websites provide handsome tax to the country.
Duterte’s call had sensed something fishy. The gamblers were expecting relief after the Philippines rejection of to ban but a twist in the tale was that PAGCOR soon announced to levy an additional tax of 5% on the gross earnings of POGO’s. PAGCOR also announced to add a monthly gaming tax of PHP 500,000/ POGO Table game dealer would be applied.
The POGO’s faced this problem of increased regulatory cost and then entered the hardships of the novel coronavirus pandemic. This led to the licensed POGO’s avoiding and abandoning the Philippines. Some cleared the dues whereas the others didn’t do too good on clearing their outstanding fees or dues before departing.
The PAGCOR shares 50% of its revenue with the Government of the Philippines. A loss on the side of PAGCOR means a collective loss for the Philippines government. The fleeing Philippines Offshore Gaming Operators are likely to not return to the country back and this means that an estimated loss of $30 Million on the part of gaming tax will be faced by the department.
Who is to blame?
The question always arises that is it the fleeing POGO’s or the Government to be blamed for increasing taxes?
Where in a game like gambling, nothing is right or wrong. It is just a matter of luck. The future will ascertain the future of Offshore Gaming Operators in the Philippines.