Philippines bill on online betting moves forward

Philippines bill on online betting moves forward

A house committee has agreed on charging a 5 per cent tax on legal online betting on sabong.

The Philippines.- The Philippine House Committee on Ways and Means has given the green light to the bill proposing new taxes for online betting on legal sabong and other events transmitted by streaming.

The committee is the body in the Philippines House of Representatives that oversees fiscal, financial and monetary issues about the national government.

In October its chairperson, Joey Sarte Salceda, filed House Bill No. 7919 aiming to collect a 5 per cent tax on gross revenues from online gaming activities. The measure aims to boost gaming tax collection in a year that has seen government revenue plunge due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The measure would exclude PAGCOR activities as well as those run by the Philippine Charity and Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). It would also allow the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to inspect and accredit gambling devices used to record the wagers.

During a meeting on Tuesday, members of the committee agreed in principle with Salceda’s proposal with the primary goal of making the industry of online sabong and other related games more transparent and accountable.

According to GMA News, Salceda said: “The operations of online betting on sabong are authorized by local ordinances. Because of the digital shift, there are now electronic betting operations on such games. However, the electronic aspect of it is a grey area, even though the airwaves are national property.

“Because of this ambiguity, we are unable to levy national taxes on these activities. By clarifying this grey area in my proposal, we hope to raise multiples more in revenues than the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) collection from cockpits of Php13.7 million (US$283,918) in 2019.”

The tax to be imposed would amount to 5 per cent of the gross revenue derived from offsite betting activities on locally licensed games, and should not be instead of taxes required by local government units as well as regulatory fees imposed by government agencies.

Games and Amusement Board chair Abraham Mitra said that online sabong and other related games is worth about Php50 billion (over US$1 billion) a year.

The House committee will identify a regulatory authority to implement the proposal.

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