POGOs flee for Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, PAGCOR says

Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) opted to close down due to the prospect of increased taxation of their businesses, with around half of the industry decamping for Indochina, according to Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) chair Andrea D. Domingo. 

“More than half have closed (and gone) to Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos,” she said at a House appropriations committee hearing Friday. 

Ms. Domingo said government revenue from POGOs over the past last six months have fallen drastically to P1.6 billion. The industry take used to average P89 billion a year.   

She said that revenue from POGOs this year is likely to hit only  P4 billion.   

Albay Representative Jose Maria Clemente S. Salceda, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said on July 22 that the House will adopt the Senate version of a POGO tax bill imposing a 5% tax on gross gaming receipts for offshore gaming licensees (OGLs) and a 25% tax on gross income for nonresident aliens working for POGO service providers.   

The Senate version requires every alien employee of POGOs to have a Tax Identification Number (TIN), imposing a P20,000 fine for each one that fails to acquire a TIN. It also taxes non-gaming income at 25%. 

The bill also bars the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport from issuing new POGO licenses and transfers the regulation of POGOs currently registered with the economic zone to PAGCOR. 

Mr. Salceda estimated that the bill will raise P13.4 billion in the first year and P176.9 billion over five years. – Russell Louis C. Ku 

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