The goal of PAGCOR, the Philippines’ gaming regulator, has always been to raise sufficient funds to pour back into various social programs. Now, though, a new audit indicates that the watchdog may have not collected as much as PHP2.33 billion ($42.7 million) from Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) over the past five years.
PAGCOR Still Has Due Tax to Collect
There are more than 50 POGOs in the country and the most recent audit of PAGCOR indicates that the regulator has been struggling in enforcing proper tax collection. Not all of the money is unchallenged, though, as some POGOs claim that up to PHP815.9 million has been unjustly requested by the regulator. As such, the sums are under “protest.”
The remainder of the sum, though, some PHP1.5 billion has not been collected over the past five years, meaning that PAGCOR has been missing out on some relevant and important revenue. The Commission on Audit argued that POGOs have been struggling to pay their full dues to the state even though there are clear collection procedures that should not have been broken in the first place.
Nevertheless, the audit should provide PAGCOR with some valuable information. For example, it should serve as good guidance on how the regulator may improve its collection procedures and make sure that POGOs do pay their dues in full. Such properties ought to pay by the 15th of each month.
All of this comes as PAGCOR is fighting the pest of unregulated gambling, including illegal gambling websites and locations. But as it has sought to address the clandestine gambling industry, PAGCOR decided to contact auditors as early as 2017 to make sure that the regulated industry is operating as intended as well.
Processing Protest Notes Not an Excuse Not to Pay
Commenting on the POGOs that have acknowledged due payments but refused to pay under protest, PAGCOR said that these operators had objected to the regulatory fees collected by the watchdog. PAGCOR has been working to process those fees while accounting for objections from POGOs.
Despite all of this, the audit commission came to the same conclusion – PAGCOR must ensure that all its licensees are complying strictly with the fee collection process and that a protest fee must still be imposed on disputed payments, as the watchdog and the country are being denied by valuable tax revenue.
Meanwhile, PAGCOR has had its hands busy. It revealed a multi-purpose emergency center in Bulacan, announcing that more would follow. The company also recently said that it had not acted rashly or unfairly in the Manila Okada saga which is seeing two groups fight for ownership of operations.