The Philippines’ regulator has cleared its offshore online gambling sector for a partial return to operations – in an effort to generate more taxes for fighting the covid pandemic.
POGOs were forced to shut down on 18 March along with much of the business community across the archipelago. Now the gambling regulator, Pagcor, has insisted they should return to work, albeit with “stringent conditions for both compliance with tax obligations and employee safety.”
Moreover, firms are required to update and settle any outstanding tax liabilities, licence fee payments and penalties issued by PAGCOR.
Each firm must pay fees for April – despite not having been able to operate – and prove they have the necessary protocols in place to allow workers to return safely.
“Even with the partial resumption of POGO operations, we will put premium on the safety of their employees, and the gaming industry as a whole,” PAGCOR chairman and chief executive Andrea Domingo said.
“While we recognise their huge contributions to nation-building, and their great viability as a funding source in these difficult times, we still have to practice extra precaution in striking a balance between health and economic benefits.”
Domingo added that funding from the online gaming sector would provide additional funds to help the state tackle the crisis. Two percent of their gross gaming revenue is paid as regulatory fees – a contribution that has steadily increased in recent years, from PHP73.7m in 2016 to PHP5.73bn ($113.3m).
The first quarter of 2020 saw this income slashed by 5.7 percent however, due to the travel restrictions and other measures related to the pandemic.