ACT-CIS Party member Niña Taduran has filed a House Resolution, appealing to competent authorities to investigate the mismatch between expected tax remittances and the actual numbers POGOs have been reporting.
Philippines MP Files Resolution to Audit POGO Taxes
At the request of a member of the Philippines Parliamentary House Committee on Games and Amusement a resolution has been filed urging competent authorities to look into integrated casino resorts in the country and establish whether these facilities have been compliant with tax laws.
Specifically, House Assistant Majority Leader and member of ACT-CIS Party, Niña Taduran, asked to clarify whether casinos have been paying taxes truthfully and in full. In her House Resolution 627, she called for a thorough examination of Philippine casino finances while paying specific attention to possible misdeclaration.
Taduran expressed worries that integrated resorts might have concealed part of their revenue through tax schemes to pay lower taxes and thus hurt the state coffers. In preparing and publishing her resolution, Taduran cited a report by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) carried out by Credit Suisse.
The investment bank’s report indicated that earnings have reached estimated $6 billion but only $3.94 billion have been logged in the books. Taduran expressed concerns about the discrepancy, elaborating that some public operations were funded by taxes paid by casinos in the Philippines.
Presently, there are nine casino companies in the Philippines with a combined capacity of 1,580 gambling tables and 9,895 slot machines. Meanwhile, PAGC also operates a number of facilities with a total of 470 tables and 9,679 slot machines.
The POGOs Effect
The Philippines has been struggling with finding an efficient way to regulate the sprawling POGO industry, casinos located offshore and employing foreign workers to slash costs. The matter even served as the basis of diplomatic conflict between Manila and Beijing, when Chinese authorities said they would require the Philippines to shut down the POGO industry over fears of Chinese workers exploitation.
Philippine Rodrigo Duterte famously said earlier this year that any boss who didn’t comply with the industry standards would be “punched and shot.” Meanwhile, Philippine finance secretary Carlos Dominguez III pursued a more civil discourse, expressing the government’s determination to crack down on the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs).
Dominguez explained that the government would have a zero-tolerance policy against companies evading taxes, leading to shutdown of business and criminal prosecution. While compliance with the tax code is absolutely necessary, there have been calls not to overregulated the industry out of existence.
PAGCOR President and COO Alfredo C Lim acknowledged the need for taxing POGOs, but he cautioned not to knock the industry too hard, as it would nip its progress in the bud. However, the government is moving at its own pace.
The Makati City Mayor Abby Binay announced on December 8 that she is imposing an indefinite moratorium on illicit activities, such as “prostitution and criminality.” The measures included issuing licenses to POGOs.
According to Binay, the government will now focus on cracking down hard against illicit operators and collect overdue taxes. She specifically raised concerns over the exploitation of Chinese nationals, an issue previously brought up by Chinese President Xi Jinping himself, as well as the likelihood of four specific operators using POGOs as fronts for prostitution rings.
“We will always welcome legitimate businesses in the city that strictly adhere to all laws and ordinances, particularly the payment of taxes,” she concluded cautioning any POGOs that may have been colouring around the lines.