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Business

Pagcor admits difficulty in collecting P1.36 billion from POGOs

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star
Pagcor admits difficulty in collecting P1.36 billion from POGOs
PAGCOR said it is trying to retrieve the amount the POGOs owe the government, as flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA) in its annual report.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) is encountering difficulties in collecting the P1.36 billion in receivables from Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs).

PAGCOR said it is trying to retrieve the amount the POGOs owe the government, as flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA) in its annual report.

However, it said POGOs have protested against such move, insisting that the billings issued to them cover the activities of illegal firms, not theirs.

PAGCOR intensified its measures to regulate the operations, including the web sites and games, of POGOs from 2018 to 2020. As a result, it discovered multiple platforms which appear to mirror the services offered by POGOs authorized to do business in the Philippines.

The state-run gaming regulator then sent billing statements to the licensees based on the average income of the uncovered web sites. In retaliation, the POGOs protested the payables asked from them on claims that the platforms were owned and managed by unknown entities.

According to PAGCOR, the POGOs complained why they are required to pay for the billing of web sites that pirate their live streams and knock off even their brands and logos.

PAGCOR admitted it has yet to collect the P1.36 billion worth of receivables marked by COA, but vowed it is looking into the matter to verify the claims made by offshore gaming operators.

“The COA’s audit observation on past due receivables persists and remains unresolved due to the unsettled protests filed by other POGO licensees,” PAGCOR said in a statement.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Monday said PAGCOR should collect the P1.36 billion that POGOs owe the government. The lawmaker also asked the gambling regulator to explain why it allowed the firms to widen their debts by that amount.

Further, Hontiveros called on PAGCOR to stop issuing new licenses to POGOs once they settle their debts to the government. The senator, who headed inquiries into crimes related to POGOs, wants authorities to kick POGOs out of the country.

In August, PAGCOR president and CEO Andrea Domingo said revenue from POGOs could fall to P4 billion this year, less than half of what used to be generated from them at P9 billion a year.

Domingo said several POGOs left the Philippines at the height of the pandemic and moved their offices to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

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