Uncollected POGO fees reach P2.3 billion in 2021, auditors say

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 23 2022 05:12 PM | Updated as of Jun 23 2022 05:40 PM

Commission on Audit (COA) building in Quezon City, Feb. 19, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File 
Commission on Audit (COA) building in Quezon City, Feb. 19, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File 

MANILA — Receivables from operators of Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGOs) reached P2.328 billion as of the end of 2021, according to a government audit on the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR.)

The Commission on Audit (COA) noted that the amount pertains to uncollected accounts for more than 1 to 5 years, and reflects an increase of P846.179 million or 57 percent from 2020.

The accumulation of receivables as of Dec. 31, 2021 is contrary to the Offshore Regulatory Gaming Manual or OGRM provision that gives POGO licensees until every 15th of the month to settle their billing.

“The presence of substantial accounts receivable from POGOs has been a persistent issue for several years despite the existence of collection procedures under the OGRM,” state auditors said. 

They said collection procedures include a notice of delinquency to the concerned POGO licensees, forfeiture of performance bond, and suspension, cessation or cancellation of offshore gaming license. 

The uncollected fees caused a "delay in the opportunity to use the much needed resources in pursuit of PAGCOR’s mandate," auditors said. 

The auditors recommended that PAGCOR officials evaluate and validate the accounts receivable under protest, totaling P815.902 million, and provide the necessary adjustments in its books.

They urged PAGCOR to revisit the effectiveness of pertinent provisions in the OGRM to improve its collection of regulatory fees.

The audit team also noted that regulatory fees were not collected from POGOs which filed a protest against their billed amounts. The resulting loss of revenue amounted to US $14.305 million. 

POGOs yielded P2.588 billion in income for PAGCOR last year, the audit said. 

PAGCOR management told COA that past due receivables from offshore gaming operations were the result of its intensive fight against illegal online gambling and its resolve to maximize collections for the government.

The agency in 2017 hired a third-party audit platform service provider to provide accurate and real-time data of gross gaming revenue, which eventually led to protest letters from 2018 to 2019 from affected POGOs.

PAGCOR Chairperson Andrea Domingo received a copy of COA's letter on June 13.

Under its charter, PAGCOR is mandated to regulate games of chance such as casinos, generate revenues for socio-civic and national developmental programs and help promote the tourism industry.

 RELATED STORY

Watch more News on iWantTFC