The crackdown on illegal online gaming firms is in full swing with authorities conducting raids “several times a week” to shut down unlicensed operators and those who dodge taxes, according to the country’s chief gaming regulator.
The head of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) said companies that comply with laws governing Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (Pogos) have the potential to generate at least P56 billion in revenue this year.
Andrea Domingo, Pagcor chair, told reporters during the launch of an upcoming exhibit of gaming service providers that almost 200 fly-by-night online gaming companies had been closed in the last few months.
She said the number of shuttered Pogos has been 150 “a few months ago, so it must be close to 200 now.” “Every week they come to us to certify whether some firms are licensed or not,” Domingo said, referring to law enforcement agencies coordinating with Pagcor.
“When we find that these companies are unlicensed, that’s when they raid those outfits,” Domingo said.
Many illegal online casinos are small operations with a small staff. Some who work in these were former employees of legal gaming companies who went on their own, according to Domingo.
Domingo said Pagcor is now preparing a unified system to keep tabs on some 180,000 foreign nationals, mainly Chinese, who work in Pogos. Gaming employment licenses would serve as IDs for the foreign workers and help identify which ones work in legal or illegal companies.
Legal Pogos, Domingo said, bring immense benefits to the Philippine economy, mainly to the real estate sector which is currently booming thanks to the need for office space of Pogos and housing for their workers.
“The biggest beneficiary is the real estate industry which makes P20 billion a year in lease and rental payments,” she said.
Also, the agreement between the biggest Pogo group and the Department of Finance (DOF) on income tax collection from Chinese workers meant at least P24 billion in revenue every year, or P2 billion a month.
Spending by Chinese workers on local goods and services was estimated at P12 billion per year of which P1.2 billion is going to state coffers as value-added tax, Domingo said./TSB
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