Philippine senator insists banning POGOs won’t affect economy

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian presented a bill to ban online gambling in the Philippines.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian presented a bill to ban online gambling in the Philippines.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has said the country doesn’t need POGOs.

The Philippines.- Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has again called for Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) to be banned.

The senator says he is working on a detailed report on the outlook of online gaming in The Philippines and that a ban on POGOs won’t affect the economy. Gatchalian said that POGOs contribute PHP35bn annually in income taxes but that in the third quarter of 2022, the collection was only PHP7.2bn, projected to reach about PHP8.5bn in December.

The senator said there may be some job shifts and impacts on the real estate sector but that these would be resolved within a few years, especially with the expected boom in the business process outsourcing industry.

In October, Gatchalian said the impact of a ban could be mitigated by attracting BPO companies, which could take up office space left by gaming operators.

Criticism of POGO auditor hired by PAGCOR

During a committee hearing on Monday, Gatchalian criticised the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation’s (PAGCOR) choice of auditor to probe the earnings of Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs). He said Global ComRCI had inconsistencies in its documents.

Gatchalian said his research team has found that Global ComRCI hired an unregistered bank to prove it had the required PHP1.3bn (US$25m) in funds to meet PAGCOR’s tender requirements. It also found that Global ComRCI was not registered in Makati City despite having a business address in the city.

In the latest session held yesterday, PAGCOR assured the public of a speedy review of the third-party auditor.

It also said there had been no reported criminal activities or incidents of kidnapping of offshore licenced industry workers for more than three months.

It said this was the result of an inter-agency collaboration meeting held last September, which brought together PAGCOR, the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior and local government departments to combat illegal gambling, including offshore gambling.

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