Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) appeared to be delinquent in paying their dues to the government, prompting the Commission on Audit (COA) to task the state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) to revisit its revenue collection mechanisms.
The COA said receivables from the POGOs have reached Philippine offshore gaming operations P2.328 billion as of the end 2021 based on the PAGCOR book of accounts.
The COA said that the amount represents uncollected fees for over the past 5 years, reflecting an increase of P846.179 million or 57 percent compared to 2020 figures.
The accumulation of receivables as of Dec. 31, 2021 is contrary to the Offshore Regulatory Gaming Manual or OGRM provision that requires POGO licensees to pay their dues every 15th of the month.
“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,” the COA 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 chair 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.