Group cites economic gains from POGOs

By Chino S. Leyco

Offshore gaming operators’ foreign employees are playing a “significant role” in the Philippines’ recovery from the coronavirus-induced global economic crisis, a group of online casino companies claimed.

In a statement, Margarita Gutierrez, Accredited Service Providers of PAGCOR (ASPAP) spokesperson, said that industry can help the government in easing the pressure on revenue generation amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Citing an estimate by the House Committee on Ways and Means, Gutierrez said that Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) are ready contributing around ₱94.7 billion annually to the local economy.

Gutierrez said this estimated amount would help fill the “gaping hole” in the national government’s stimulus plan, noting the industry also contributed ₱22.4 billion in taxes from 2018 to 2019.

POGOs also pay to ₱9 billion in permit and other fees to the Department of Labor and Employment permits and hiring agencies, she pointed out.

“PAGCOR says the annual collections from taxes and fees from POGOs should be around ₱34 billion,” the ASPAP said.

Gutierrez also cited that PAGCOR is projecting that its annual collection of fees from POGOs would hit P10 billion, while withholding taxes on both foreign and local workers are estimated at P12.25 billion.

Furthermore, she said that an estimated P33 billion would be injected to the local economy by foreign

POGO workers through their daily expenses, rental payments for offices and houses, plus P16.4 billion in wages for staff.

The total contribution of POGOs to the Philippine economy, based on PAGCOR estimates, could reach as high as P104 billion, Gutierrez said.

For this reason, Gutierrez believes economic benefit from POGOs provide a more compelling rational to allow the resumption of their operation.

"Revenues which POGOs pump into the economy are way beyond the regulatory fees and taxes directly paid to the authorities," Gutierrez explained.

With government’s deficit expected to balloon up to P1 trillion due to the pandemic, Gutierrez said the income from offshore gaming and the ripples of benefits it would bring could provide the additional resources for critical coronavirus response programs.

“We are committed to fully support the country’s roadmap to economic recovery and we hope that all sectors will pour their efforts toward this goal,” she said.