Booming Pogos seen to offset harder times for PH gaming resorts
While the Philippines’ gaming industry is expected to gain more revenues thanks to the influx of Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos), the domestic integrated resort sector faces more challenges amid intense competition here and abroad, according to the state-run think-tank National Tax Research Center (NTRC).
“Although considered to be a new gambling activity in the country, offshore gaming is proving to be a promising revenue-generating industry. However, the industry has yet to reach its fullest potential and still has enough elbow room for growth and improvement in terms of tax collection, safeguards and audit, among others,” the NTRC said in a report titled “Profile and Taxation of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations.”
The Department of Finance (DOF) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) are running after not only unpaid corporate income taxes of unregistered Pogos but also the unremitted personal income taxes withheld from their employees.
Based on the latest BIR data, registered Pogos and their service providers numbered 218 to date, employing more than108,000 foreign—mostly Chinese—workers.
But for the NTRC, “given the advantages of the Philippines in terms of availability of office space, labor, tax incentives and technology, it is not farfetched that the country would be a major player in offshore gaming industry worldwide.”
The state-run regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) had projected the Pogo sector to generate P8 billion in gaming revenues this year.
From 2016 to 2018, Pogos already contributed P11.9 billion in gaming revenues to government coffers, up from only P56 million yearly in the past, Pagcor chair and chief executive Andrea Domingo had said.
On the other hand, the integrated resort sector in the Philippines established when the government opened up the gaming market in 2008 was “not immune to challenges,” according to a separate NTRC report titled “Profile and Taxation of the Integrated Resort Industry in the Philippines.”
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