Pagcor revenue from Pogo seen hitting P8B in 2019
Despite the controversy surrounding the industry, the government still expects to see increased revenues from the online gaming industry—resources that were previously nonexistent before the activity was legalized in 2016, according to the chief of the country’s casino regulator.
In a statement, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) chair and CEO Andrea Domingo said that licensing fees and royalties from Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos) would likely hit P8 billion by the end of 2019.
If this level is hit, that would translate to a 33-percent increase from the P6 billion that the industry remitted to the government last year.
All told, Pogos have remitted almost P12 billion to the national government since the new category was created three years ago in an effort to regulate what was once an underground activity based in various special economic zones around the country.
“So we will make around P20 billion in a span of three years from Pogo alone,” Domingo said.
The revenue goal comes after Pagcor announced on Monday a moratorium on the issuance of new licenses for Pogos due to concerns raised by lawmakers that the influx of thousands of Chinese workers into the industry might present a national security risk for the country.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila has also raised concerns about the plan of regulators to create so-called Pogo hubs where these workers would “live, work and play” while reminding the Philippine government that gambling—which this industry catered to—was prohibited in China.
Domingo said the regulator would now “closely review and monitor” existing Pogo contracts to address issues on security and legality of operations. The moratorium would continue until the end of 2019.
“We began the moratorium three weeks ago due to miscommunications about Pogo and the Pogo hubs,” she said. “There were also concerns on social cause, security problems, legitimacy of the operations and all of that. So we decided to do what is necessary to address these issues immediately.”
Currently, Pagcor has granted licenses to 58 Pogo operators that employ more than 130,000 individuals, while three are still pending approval.
“We will only have a maximum of 61,” she said. “We will no longer, at this time, accept applications until we have reviewed and comfortably addressed all the concerns of everybody, including the concerns of the senators and real estate people. It’s about time, after almost three years of implementing this program, to stop first and look at other concerns until they have been addressed comfortably and effectively.”
The Pagcor chief also noted that the agency already directed all operators to immediately report issues concerning Pogo employees. Gaming employment licenses were also being issued to all Pogo workers so that they would be under Pagcor’s jurisdiction.
Domingo said the agency was also closely working with the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police to ensure that Pogos were operating legally.
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