MANILA – With two Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) exiciting the country, a looming exodus of online casino exits are expected to follow suit as they are facing difficulties securing tax clearance from the government.
Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer Andrea Domingo confirmed that casino operator SunCity Group has ceased their operations here in the country. Several operators are expected to close. Don Tencess Asian Solutions, Inc. has also asked PAGCOR to have its license canceled aswell.
Currently, 13 POGO operators have closed their businesses here in the Philippines.
According to PAGCOR Assistant Vice-President for Offshore Gaming and Licensing Department Jose S. Tria, Jr., POGOs are leaving the country due to strict tax rules particularly on the franchise tax as the industry is also currently being affected with the ongoing ban on some gambling activities.
Majority of POGO operators are still unable to resume operations due to tax issues with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) that need to settle. POGO licensees are contesting the BIR franchise tax as the tax code law allegedly does not state that firms with no physical presence are subject to the levy.
Although, some cities offer friendlier tax rates, some operators can no longer take the criticism and the feeling of being unwelcomed in the country.
Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio G. Lambino II said that around 10 out 60 POGO companies have offices here in the Philippines and the rest operating offshores. BIR collected P6.42 billion in taxes from the POGO industry from last year compared to the P2.38 billion generated the same period in 2018.