PAGCOR Chair and CEO Andrea Domingo has stated her opposition to calls for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) located in Special Economic Zones to be granted additional perks and tax breaks.
The issue has been blamed for recent delays to final ratification of a bill that would impose a unified tax system across all POGO operators and their foreign employees, with operators pushing to include tax provisions for those located in special zones, such as the Clark or Subic Bay Freeport Zones.
In an interview with the Inquirer this week, Domingo said she opposes such a move, preferring instead for all POGO operators to be treated uniformly.
“Special means special,” she said. “In government there shall be no such thing. All policies, regulations and laws should be uniformly applied.”
Under the proposed tax, licensed POGOs would pay a gaming tax of 5% on gross gaming revenues and POGO workers earning Php600,000 or more a 25% withholding tax. A minimum monthly withholding tax of Php12,500 will be applied to all POGO workers to prevent salaries being wrongly declared.
Accredited POGO service providers – those providing online gaming operations under the license of a POGO – won’t pay any gaming taxes but will be liable other local and national taxes.
The imposition of a 5% gaming tax on POGOs will replace other taxes such as franchise taxes, levies and fees. The new taxation scheme is expected to raise additional annual revenues of around Php45 billion (US$935 million).
However, having passed through the House of Representatives in February and the senate in June, the Bill is now being held up in Congress despite being declared an urgent matter to help raise urgent government funds in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Inquirer, the Bill is supported by President Rodrigo Duterte as well as gaming regulator PAGCOR, with Domingo calling it “fair and good” for the government, the public and gaming firms.