The online gambling industry in the Philippines had been warned: pay your taxes, or else. The consequences of that threat are now clear, as the Philippine Offshore Gambling Operator (POGO) Great Empire Gaming and Amusement Corp (GEGAC) has been forced to shut down by Philippine authorities, local outlet ABS-CBN reports.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez specifically noted that GEGAC had been shuttered for a failure to pay its taxes. “POGO service provider Great Empire Gaming and Amusement Corp (GEGAC) is being shut down for lack of registration for VAT purposes,” he noted.
The operation was primarily located in Libis, Quezon City, but also had a locations in Parañaque and Subic. Most of their operation was located in an unfinished office building at the Libis site, and reports now indicate 8100 employees are now out of work. It should be noted though that The Philippine Daily Inquirer quotes Department of Finance Assistant Secretary Tony Lambino who said the operation had 2,000 employees who were mostly Chinese, so the numbers will need to be confirmed.
This comes off of several warnings that the POGO industry wasn’t paying in all the taxes it owed to the government. While the industry has been given a lot of leash, they’ve also been warned as recently as September 16 that if bills weren’t paid, there would be trouble.
Speaking of trouble, the POGO industry also kicked up stories of kidnapping on September 25, as seven foreign nationals were arrested at Manila’s international airport for alleged kidnapping.
Identified as Chinese nationals Chen Xin, Liu Chen, Yang Shuwen, Wei Ching, Zhang Lee and Qi Long, and Yu Jhong Ruei from Taiwan, the seven are accused of kidnapping three other Chinese citizens in a scene that aroused suspicion at the airport.
The victims worked at a POGO and were due to leave the country as they were unhappy with their pay. When they were due to meet their handlers at the airport to receive their travel papers, they were instead forcibly pulled into the van.
Worried that the entire thing might have been organized by the POGO the victims worked for, Police Lt. Col. Elmer Cereno, PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG), noted that they will continue investigating the case.