PAGCOR approves two POGO hubs
Mary Grace Padin (The Philippine Star) - July 13, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) has approved the establishment of two hubs that will host offshore gaming firms operating in the country, its top official announced yesterday.

According to PAGCOR chairman and chief executive officer Andrea Domingo, the government is now facilitating the establishment of hubs for Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) to attract more investors and make it easier for the government to regulate the industry.

“We are making business more comfortable and easier for the operators by now licensing POGO hubs,” Domingo said during the opening ceremony of the 2019 Philippine-Asian Gaming Expo (PAGE).

In a follow up interview during the same event, Domingo said the gaming regulator has already given the green-light for two of these zones. “So far there are only two that have been approved,” she said.

These hubs, which are being put up by gaming firm Oriental Group, include a 10-hectare zone in Clark and a 20-hectare hub in Cavite.

Oriental Group general manager Kevin Wong said the Clark hub is already operational, while the Cavite hub will be opened soon.

According to Domingo, the so-called POGO hubs are envisioned to house both the offices of offshore gaming regulators, as well as the residences for their workers.

She said government agencies, such as PAGCOR would also set up offices in these hubs, enabling authorities to easily monitor POGOs.

The PAGCOR chief said offshore gaming operators who would locate inside these zones would be awarded by PAGCOR with a five-year license, longer than the three-year permit given to those outside these zones.

“Since it’s easier for us to regulate when they are in hubs, then there are some special privileges there like five-year license. But for those outside, three years, which is (still) better because in the past it’s one year only,” Domingo said.

Domingo said more firms are interested to put up POGO hubs, but PAGCOR has to assess their ability to build world-class facilities.

“There are still more, but you know there are very strict regulations because we want the facilities to be world class and then, of course, the dorms there should be decent, the quarters fit for human residents,” she said.

Meanwhile, Domingo said PAGCOR is also planning to issue gaming employees license (GEL) to workers of offshore gaming operators.

“We are going to issue the GEL now, the gaming employees license, so that there would be no piracy among the different operators and players. When they show that, those in the law enforcement agencies that come and visit us, they know that they are paying BIR taxes, because we will not issue without the Tax Identification Number,” she said.

Domingo also said the POGO industry is “here to stay,” emphasizing that the industry is now well-regulated.

She said PAGCOR is expecting to generate P8 billion in gaming revenues from the POGO industry this year, on top of the P11.9 billion already collected by the regulator from 2016 to 2018.

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