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POGOs growth seen as both boon, bane

Offshore gaming operations or POGOs will deliver up to P20 billion in revenues as they submit to Philippine laws, an official said Friday. 

The Philippines’ “very good model” had encouraged up to 59 POGOs to set up shop in the Philippines, said Andrea Domingo, chairman of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

READ: Pagcor: Government not inclined to impose higher taxes on POGOs

She said the rules that were recently finalized covered personal and corporate income taxes, the establishment of POGO hubs and the setting of three-year and five-year licenses to operate, 

In other developments:*

The Bureau of Immigration said Friday foreigners wanting to work in the Philippines may soon apply for their working visas abroad before arriving in the Philippines.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente made the announcement following the joint memorandum circular on the Rules and Procedures Governing Foreign Nationals Intending to Work in the Philippines signed by Immigration, the Department of Labor and Employment and the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

READ: Aliens told: No permit, no work

Senator Joel Villanueva said Friday POGOs were growing but they were actually less beneficial to the domestic economy.

He said the POGOs were causing a lot of stress in the real estate market to the detriment of Filipino businesses and workers renting in the urban areas to be near their workplaces.

“With the way developments in the industry are unfolding, we fear that we are becoming the sin city of China with very little benefit to Filipinos and our economy,” Villanueva said in a statement.

The offshore gaming operations delivered P11.9 billion in revenues from 2016 to 2018 with P8 billion more expected in 2019, Domingo told the Phil-Asian Gaming Expo, a three-day event billed as Asia’s largest gaming expo.

Addressing POGO operators in the crowd, Domingo said: “We are offshore gaming operators in the Philippines. We are legal. We ensure fair play. We do not run away from losing bets and we are here to stay.” 

POGOs referred to those who play from outside the Philippines, Domingo said, compared to online gaming that could be played from inside the Philippines or from a device using a Philippine IP address.

The influx of Chinese workers to POGOs has sparked concern among lawmakers who fear they are competing with Filipinos for local jobs.

The expatriates also help drive demand for commercial and residential space.

Domingo, who joked that she only knew how to play mahjong when the POGO boom started three years ago, said “there are more things to be done” to make it more stable.

In 2016, Domingo said, she started with a crackdown on illegal gaming operations.

“All in all, I think we are progressing. Here we are,” she said.

“We have concentrated on making enough rules and regulations to attract those that would otherwise be declared as illegally operating to go into the fold of the law and operate legally,” she said.

Domingo dismissed as “intrigues” reports that businessmen Kim Wong and Bong Cuevas were “manipulating” PAGCOR on offshore gaming. 

READ: Online gaming operations seen to become the largest office space tenant in Metro Manila

Topics: Andrea Domingo , Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. , Jaime Morente , Department of Labor and Employment
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