MANILA— The number of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) in the Philippines has dropped by half and moved to neighboring countries, the head of the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) said Friday.
Speaking to the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, Pagcor Chair Andrea Domingo said that just nearly half of the total number of POGOs have remained in the country.
"Halos kalahati na lang. Marami na ho ang nagsara, more than half have already closed. They went to Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos," she told lawmakers.
She did not disclose reasons why the gaming firms left. Domingo said the remaining POGOs are paying taxes to the government.
"They have always been paying taxes po. Kaya lang may bago yatang batas ngayon definitely kung ano lang ‘yung babayaran nila (But I think there's a new law now that defines what they have to pay), and clearly stated," she said in response to a question from House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante.
POGOs, which are mostly Chinese-run, have been involved in controversies in the Philippines, including alleged violations of immigration rules, bribery, prostitution and other crimes.
Domingo said the departure of POGOs has affected Pagcor's revenue stream.
”Dati umaabot ng P8-9 billion a year ‘yung POGO, sa ngayon, itong last 6 months namin, umaabot pa lang kami ng mga P1.6 billion. So kung mag-aano, parang aabot ng P4 billion. Kalahati talaga dahil kalahati na lang nag-ooperate.”
(Before, we used to reach P8-9 billion a year from POGOs, but now, over the last 6 months, we've just reached P1.6 billion. So it may reach P4 billion full year. Just half of before because now only half operate.)
Pagcor, meanwhile, reported to lawmakers that it earned a total P36 billion in 2020, and is projected to earn P36.84 billion in 2021.
For this year, it said it expects to contribute P23.755 billion to the government coffers.
Its total tax payments to the Bureau of Internal Revenue, meanwhile, reached P5.59 billion in 2020.
— report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News