PAGCOR says online gaming revenues drop 50 percent as pandemic shrinks POGO income

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 24 2020 05:15 PM

Phil-Asian Gaming Expo features offshore games targetting bettors outside the Philippines. Games can be played on desktop or mobile devices. Photos taken at the SMX Convention Center. July 12, 2019. Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Online gaming revenues dropped 50 percent after the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting restrictions limited offshore gaming operations, the country's gaming regulator said Thursday. 

Online gaming revenues halved after the income of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) and their service providers plummeted as much as 80 percent during the pandemic, said PAGCOR assistant vice president for offshore gaming licensing Jose Tria.

The agency's P600 million monthly regulatory fees were cut by "almost half" since only 32 out of the 60 POGOs in the country were allowed to resume operations at a limited 30 percent capacity, Tria said.

Only 111 out of the 218 accredited POGO service providers were allowed to operate following clearances from the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

“Our monthly regulatory fees of around P600-million pre-COVID is now down by almost half. This should have been lower if not for the Minimum Guaranteed Fees which allows PAGCOR to impose higher regulatory fees than two percent of POGOs’ GGR [Gross Gaming Revenues] following the ‘whichever is higher formula’,” Tria said.

PAGCOR earlier allowed POGOs to resume operations but only after complying with conditions such as completing all pending tax liabilities to the government.

At least 5 POGO licenses were canceled, 5 were suspended while 42 service providers have filed for cancellation of their accreditation following the imposition of stricter quarantine and tax rules, Tria said.

The exit of POGOs could adversely affect government tax revenues, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III earlier said.

Property consultants have said the alleged exit of POGOs in the country could hurt the office and residential spaces in Metro Manila.

Most POGOs have offices in the Bay area and other hubs in Metro Manila. Chinese workers appear to spur economic activities in areas where POGOs operate, boosting retail and restaurant businesses.