Tax office concedes POGO takings down

Philippines Bureau of internal Revenue

The Bureau of Internal Revenue, which had been planning to double revenue from Philippine Offshore Gambling Operators (POGOs) concedes takings are down as few have reopened following the pandemic.

Speaking to The Inquirer, Revenue Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa, said tax revenue had declined as many Chinese workers have had their visas cancelled, while others have returned to China due to concern about the high levels of Covid-19 in the Philippines. The official didn’t give precise figures as they are as yet unavailable.

There are currently 55 POGO operators licensed in the Philippines, down from 60 at the beginning of the year, though only 29 have resumed operations since the crisis, the newspaper said.

The government has stipulated that the online gaming firms must pay back taxes before they are allowed to operate. However, many are concerned about rising costs of business, in particular a 5 percent franchise tax on gross bets.

Earlier this month, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law an economic recovery package that targets P17.5 billion ($360.7 million) in revenue from POGOs this year, compared with the P7 billion that was collected in 2019.