Philippines gaming regulator PAGCOR says it has already resolved more than a third of outstanding accounts receivable owed by Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators, as calculated by the Commission on Audit (COA).
The COA revealed last week that Php2.33 billion (US$42.5 million) was still owed to PAGCOR more than a year after first falling due and seemingly questioned why this was the case given the government’s need for funding throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response, the regulator said via a statement issued Monday that it had in fact resolved “with finality” Php815.9 million (US$15.0 million) of the amount in question, which had been incorrectly billed on suspicion that certain POGOs were operating undeclared websites.
“After thorough revalidation, no link between the suspected undeclared websites and concerned POGOs were established,” said PAGCOR, adding that the undeclared sites were found to be websites of illegal operators stealing the live stream of licensees.
Of the remaining Php1.5 billion (US$27.5 million) in uncollected funds, PAGCOR explained, this is mainly attributable to the recent effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and relates to the decision by PAGCOR to bill a monthly Minimum Guaranteed Fee on POGOs that ultimately never reopened.
“Despite being allowed to resume operations [from June 2020], the majority of our operators were still unable to resume operations due to existing lockdowns, restrictions in business operations, prohibition on entry of foreign workers, and other pandemic measures,” it said. This “consequently resulted in the accrual of uncollected bills.”
However the regulator emphasized that “POGOs which are currently operational were required to fully settle their accumulated arrears before they were allowed to resume operations.
“This meant full payment of their monthly MGF for the months that they were non-operational beginning on March 2020, including the months wherein closure and stoppage of operations was mandated by the government. These collected amounts were used by the Government to fund the fight against the pandemic.
“To date, PAGCOR has been observing proper procedures for the collection of its outstanding receivables. Uncollected accounts receivables have already been referred to the legal department for necessary action, and PAGCOR is set on employing all legal means for its collection.”