More POGOs to leave PH over tax ‘issues’ with gov’t- PAGCOR

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) said Sunday two POGOs left the Philippines, and more were seen to exit the country due to tax “issues” with the government.

PAGCOR chair and chief executive officer Andrea Domingo confirmed that Suncity, a unit of Macau’s gambling giant Suncity Group, has left the Philippines.

“Yes, Suncity has left,” Domingo said when asked to confirm if the leading casino junket operator in Asia ceased its operations in the country.

She added that “there are others more that are leaving the Philippines” that would not impact the government’s revenue but also the 30,521 Filipinos for POGO companies.

In May, the government allowed POGOs to resume operations as long as they would settle their unpaid with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) first and comply with COVID-19 protocols.

The Department of Finance (DOF) said last week they are investigating allegations that only two POGO companies paid taxes, with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III that the claims are “probably true.”

In 2019, DOF already warned to shut down POGOs with unsettled taxes, with uncollected withholding income taxes, then estimated at P21.62 billion. Several POGOs have since been closed.

PAGCOR said Don Tencess Asian Solutions also officially filed to cancel its license to operate in the Philippines.

Also read: De Lima wants probe if Philippine laws implemented against POGOs

“I’ve heard there are other companies that also plan to cancel their licenses, but I haven’t received their official letters, so I can’t name them yet,” said PAGCOR assistant vice president for offshore gaming licensing Jose Tria.

“There are other jurisdictions that have opened up offering better tax rates and friendlier environment,” Tria added, “Some [POGOs] also can no longer take the criticisms they get each day that make them feel unwelcome in our country.”

Tria said 13 service providers, including telemarketing, systems and hardware support, call center operations, and hardware support, as well as “live dealer” video streaming and other online games, also closed.

Last week, the DOF said government revenues from tax of should reach up to P20 billion per year. The collections, however, only reached P6 billion in 2019.