A little fear is apparently all it took, and online operators are falling in line. Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO) are reportedly starting to pay their taxes, after witnesses what happens to POGOs who don’t.
The Manila Bulletin reports the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is starting to see improvement in their collections on a monthly basis. BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel S.D. Guballa told the outlet that when compared to a collection of P1.4 billion ($27 million) in income taxes from foreign works in the period leading up to August 2018, they’ve now seen P1.63 billion ($32 million) taken in for the same period this year.
He further speculated that with the raids and closures of tax avoiding POGOS, he expects September to bring in even more, due to fear created in the industry. “Our collection is improving because they know that we’re doing enforcement activity. As you know our dialogue with them had lapsed, we sent them notices and they are not complying, so we did the raid,” he said.
He stressed though that this isn’t a baseless claim, noting that several POGOs reached out to the BIR after tits raid on Great Empire Gaming and Amusement Corp, which resulted in a P1.3 billion ($25 million) tax payment and penalty.
As Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) chief Andrea Domingo recently told the media, the POGO industry can thrive so long as it follows the law. She stressed that the regulator will continue its pause on accepting new applications until they’ve finalized a new formula to approve their operations. In the meantime, she stressed that as long as POGOs pay their taxes and follow local laws, there should be no problems.
They will have a lot of ground to make up. Despite Guballa’s boasts that the BIR has brought in an addition P200 million, the Department of Finance estimated in June that an additional PHP 20 billion is currently not being collected.