By Chino S. Leyco
Oriental Group, the casino holding company of Oriental Game, said its two offshore gaming hubs in north and south of Metro Manila will house satellite offices for the tax and immigration bureaus to ensure transparency of its operations.
Kevin Wong, Oriental Group general manager said that their hubs in Clark, Pampanga and Kawit, Cavite this move will assure compliance of all adhere government regulations — labor code, tax laws, immigration, and gaming.
“It’s not just the operators but a lot of one-stop shop solutions will be there,” Wong said.
“Pagcor (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.) will have an office there. We’ll also invite immigration, and BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue).”
“If you locate in a POGO (Philippine offshore gaming operation) hub no one would say that you’re illegal because all the other agencies are already there,” he added.
Amid issues on POGO’s tax compliance, Wong said that Oriental, one of the biggest Pagcor-licensed POGO, already submitted its books with the BIR for review.
He also said that their current POGO centers are registered with Pagcor, while their foreign workers have work permits from the Bureau of Immigration.
As an industry leader, Wong also said that they plan to create a group representing the legitimate POGO companies in the country that will police the sector against unregistered offshore gaming operators.
He also disclosed his discussion with Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III who gave them two month for the sector to fully comply with all mandated taxes and fees.
The Oriental official likewise added that they plan to hire more Filipinos.
“Typically, it’s [operating] about 60:40, 60 percent foreign, 40 percent local, now we’re trying to find ways on how to increase the number of Pinoys,” he said, noting Filipino IT programmers are the “best talents” in the world.
Wong, meanwhile, admitted that there are sometimes “social tensions” between POGO workers who are mostly Chinese and Filipinos, but he said that this issue is now being addressed by containing these foreign nationals in single location.
Wong said that under Oriental’s plan, the POGO hubs will have office spaces, dormitories, restaurants, groceries, and recreational facilities for its employees.
“With all the social tensions, we want to put everyone together,” Wong said. “When all other people saying so and so with our industry, we want to remove that. We can’t really isolate but at least put it in a place. Within the POGO hub everything will be there.”
Oriental is currently building a 10-hectare hub in Clark and another 20-hectare online gaming complex in Cavite.
Andrea Domingo, Pagcor chair and chief executive said the gaming regulator approved the construction of Oriental’s POGO hubs, which both have a five-year license to operate.
POGOs operating outside the so-called hubs have only three-year license from Pagcor.
For Cavite hub, Wong said Oriental is investing P8 billion in the island complex.
Last week, Domingo said that POGOs are “here to stay,” and poised to deliver up to P20 billion in revenues as they submit to Philippine laws.
She also said the Philippines’ “very good model” encouraged up to 59 POGOs to set up shop.
Property broker David Leechiu estimates that the online gaming sector employs about 345,000 workers.