Discussing the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators, the country’s gaming regulator boss, Alfredo C Lim, said that POGOs were a positive development and they must not be regulated and taxed out of existence.
PAGCOR Boss Warns the Philippines to Avoid Overregulation
PAGCOR President and COO Alfredo C Lim has cautioned the government not to try and overtax the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators or POGOs. Lim’s warnings come shortly after the country’s president, Rodrigo Duterte, threatened to summon POGO bosses and punch and shoot them with air bullets if they failed to fulfil tax obligations.
President Duterte words were incendiary and they came at almost the same time when POGOs were slapped with a new 5% tax on their gross income, amid calls from Chinese officials to shut the industry down completely for fears Chinese nationals were being exploited as cheap workers.
While POGOs have been failing to hold their end of the bargain, with just 10 out of 60 registered companies paying taxes. Yet, described as a burgeoning industry, POGOs can yet generate a fair economic windfall for the Philippines.
Lim has so far been one of the few officials to offer a more conciliatory tone in dealing with the grey market of POGOs.
Lim Speaks Up His Mind about POGOs at G2E Asia
Speaking to Inside Asian Gaming at G2E Asia in Manila, the Philippines capital, Lim shared his opinion that any future regulation and tax framework affecting POGOs would need to be developed around the idea of sustainability.
In other words, the government must focus on taxing POGOs without “killing the industry.” He called for a balance and offered a proverbial insight comparing the industry to the “hen that lays the golden egg.” As to the 5% tax specifically, Lim found the move to be well-motivated and in line with what POGOs can handle in terms of tax.
“POGO is new so we will experience some birth pains so to speak, but we are trying to perfect the regulations in a way so that everything will be harmonized for the mutual satisfaction of all parties concerned.”
Caught in their initial stages of development, POGOs shouldn’t be over-regulated, Lim cautioned. The industry will generate not only tax revenue, but also boost real estate in the Philippines.
Ultimately, real estate owners are happy, Lim continued, as POGOs were driving the sector up as well as providing employment and return for the coffers.
POGOs: A Few Loose Ends
Presently, POGOs face a new struggle – falling in line with the country’s demand for honouring tax. Many operators have been avoiding paying what is legally owed to the state, prompting the President to indulge in his belligerent rhetoric.
Meanwhile, PAGCOR chair Andrea Domingo talked about the current moratorium on POGO licenses, which will remain in place until 2020 in the very least. This, Domingo hopes, would give authorities sufficient time to clarify any POGO-related policies as well as enforce a proper taxation system.
Domingo said that the regulator had completed the job on 90% and the next year will be crucial to addressing all concerns surrounding the industry, including its “dark side – prostitution, kidnapping, financing.”
IAG quoted Domingo saying:
“We have a very complete understanding of what we have to do so by next year, first quarter, you will see us going into a more sophisticated way of operations in our own casinos and of regulation of the licensed operations.
There is also a political pressure coming from China over potentially exploited Chinese nationals who work on the premises of the POGOs. Addressing the safety of workers, Domingo said that PAGCOR had a good working relation with relevant authorities and that operations are in place to ensure workers are protected.