Philippines gaming regulator PAGCOR has authorized the nation’s Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) to resume some operations in order to boost revenue for combatting COVID-19.
However, all POGOs and their service providers must fulfil certain prerequisites before being given the green light, including settling any outstanding tax liabilities as certified by the Bureau of Internal Revenue, updating payment of any regulatory fees, license fees, performance bonds or penalties owed to PAGCOR, and remittance of all regulatory fees for the month of April.
PAGCOR has also implemented strict safety protocols POGOs must adhere to. The protocols state that only 30% of each company’s workforce are allowed on operating sites per shift, shuttle services must be provided to transport employees between their office and place of residence, temperature checks must be conducted upon entry to the office premises, social distancing is practiced, masks worn and proper sanitation and disinfection measures implemented at all times.
All employees returning to work must also be tested for COVID-19 and obtain a negative test result from a testing facility registered with the Food and Drug Administration.
PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Andrea Domingo said the provision to allow POGOs to resume was issued without violating guidelines provided by the government under its Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) measures.
“Even with the partial resumption of POGO operations, we will put premium on the safety of their employees, and the gaming industry as a whole,” Domingo said.
“While we recognize their huge contributions to nation-building, and their great viability as a funding source in these difficult times, we still have to practice extra precaution in striking a balance between health and economic benefits.”
PAGCOR said sanctions and penalties will apply to POGO licensees and service providers found in violation of any prerequisites or security protocols, and of the Inter-Agency Task Force’s (IATF) orders. Monitoring will be carried out by PAGCOR’s Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Department, in coordination with other government agencies. The IATF will also conduct inspections to gauge compliance to protocols.