By Chino Leyco
A group of service providers for offshore gaming operators said its members will continue to pay all fees as well as corporate and withholding taxes of their workers under any industry classification.
In a statement, the Accredited Service Providers Association of PAGCOR (ASPAP) said its members’ classification as business process outsourcing (BPO) enterprises would not result in tax losses for the government.
According to ASPAP, a number of service providers for Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO) are already renting office spaces in Philippine Economic Zone Authority-registered (PEZA) buildings, but they opted not to seek incentives or any tax breaks from the government.
ASPAP explained POGO service providers are not qualified for tax incentives because they are not PEZA or Board of Investments (BOI) registered enterprises.
But ASAP believes it sees no reason why the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) cannot accredit its own BPO companies.
ASPAP also said allegations that classifying online gaming service providers as BPOs so they can operate during enhanced community quarantine would mean billions of pesos in revenue losses for the state are unfounded.
“We pay taxes and we will continue to pay. Period,” ASPAP said. “Some members are renting office spaces in PEZA-registered buildings but they’re not PEZA- or BOI-registered enterprises. That’s only for those who want to pay less taxes to government.”
While the industry is open to criticism, the group said its members are just like any Philippine-based companies that want to help the government raise funds to fight the pandemic.
“Although many will disagree, it’s a fact that online gaming operations, even on a limited basis, is the easiest way to raise money to feed the poor amidst the COVID-19 crisis,” it added.
ASPAP explained that its members provide third party support services to POGOs for a fee.
It added that ASPAP member-firms are distinct and separate from POGOs in the same way that local BPOs are distinct from their foreign-based clients.
“Like any BPO, we provide IT and software development services, call center and telemarketing assistance, back office support, and maintenance services,” ASPAP said.
“While we also provide specialized services like ‘live dealer’ video streaming, ASPAP members do not solicit bets because this is the turf of POGOs which have special licenses from the Pagcor,” the group added.