Philippines expecting to stem POGO exodus

There are currently only 33 POGO licence holders in operation.
There are currently only 33 POGO licence holders in operation.

Online gambling operators began leaving The Philippines last year after legislators tried to impose taxes to help fund Covid-19 relief efforts.

The Philippines.- Analysts expect the tide of online gambling operators leaving the country to stop following changes to the country’s proposed tax on operators.

The Philippines’ lower chamber tried to impose a 5 per cent franchise tax on overall turnover for Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) last year in a bid to make up budget shortfalls caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

That, combined with the Covid-19 pandemic, provoked some operators to leave the country.

The tax changes were finally suspended in January following a petition to the Supreme Court from foreign gaming groups, but it was reintroduced in February.

Now, the bill proposes that offshore gambling licence holders pay a 5 per cent tax on gross gaming receipts and revenues.

According to PAGCOR’s website, the number of POGO licence holders that are currently operating is just 33, compared with 61 prior to the Covid crisis.

Danny Too, general manager of Cherry Interactive, said the new bill is more acceptable but that the tax was still high.

He said: “I don’t foresee an immediate exodus of all the POGO operators from the Philippines.”

Mark Gilbert, a Philippines-based igaming consultant, agreed but warned “there are still major issues facing the sector.”

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