By Chino S. Leyco
The Duterte administration is all set to begin soon its crackdown on service providers of the booming offshore gaming operations that continuously evade the government despite calls by the Department of Finance (DOF) to register and pay their tax dues.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said that Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) with unregistered foreign employees will be closed down by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in cooperation with other government agencies.
“Yes, [we will] close down organizations that don’t withhold and remit the proper amount taxes from their employees,” Dominguez told reporters in a mobile phone message when asked if the government will soon begin the crackdown of tax-dodging POGOs.
According to Dominguez, the government crackdown against unscrupulous online gaming companies will begin “ASAP [as soon as possible].”
The finance chief added that their forthcoming crackdown on erring POGOs was in cooperation with the Office of the President, Department of Justice, Department of Labor and Employment, Bureau of Immigration as well as the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor).
To recall, President Rodrigo R. Duterte reminded POGOs’ service providers operating in the Philippines to remit their dues to government faithfully or face consequences.
“If you make the mistake of not remitting, even if you’re a gambling lord, I don’t care who you are,” Duterte had warned.
Last month, the BIR said it collected about P200 million in income taxes from foreigners working for POGOs, which employs about 130,000 non-Filipino nationals who were mostly Chinese.
According to the DOF, the government may generate around P24 billion yearly for every 100,000 foreign workers if they pay correct taxes.
Earlier, Pagcor Chair Andrea Domingo said that licensing fees and royalties from POGOs would likely hit P8 billion this year, up 33 percent compared with P6 billion last year.
The 2019 expected remittance was on top of the P12-billion contribution to the national government since POGO was created three years ago in an effort to regulate what was once an underground gaming operations.
In August, Pagcor imposed a moratorium on new POGO accreditation following the concerns raised about the growing number of Chinese workers in the country.
Mr. Duterte had said that online gaming operations catering to foreign gamblers abroad will continue in the Philippines, saying “it is good for the country.”
The chief executive explained the livelihood of many Filipinos would be affected if the government decides to ban online gaming.
In his recent visit to Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping raised with Mr. Duterte his concern about POGOs that lure Chinese gamblers to illegally play online casinos.
But Dominguez, who accompanied Mr. Duterte during a two-a-half hour bilateral meeting with President Xi, said that the Chinese leader did not ask or request the Philippine chief executive to ban offshore gaming operations, which mostly employ Chinese nationals.