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Pagcor warns of P20 billion revenue loss from POGO ban

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star
Pagcor warns of P20 billion revenue loss from POGO ban
This undated photo shows of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. building in Manila.
AFP / Jay Directo

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is expected to lose at least P20 billion annually if the government will heed the call to ban Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs).

This is according to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), the state-owned regulator, which argued that disallowing POGOs might just drive legitimate operators underground and eventually cause bigger problems for the government.

Pagcor chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco said potential revenue losses would also hit over P20 billion per year.  Tengco emphasized that banning POGOs will not guarantee that illegal activities will stop.

“If this happens, it would become harder for us to monitor them, and the number of illegal operators would grow and pose a bigger headache to our law enforcement authorities,” Tengco said.

Senators recently resumed their calls for President Marcos to ban POGOs amid the industry’s threat to national security and ties to organized crimes.

This also came after the case of POGO firm Zun Yuan Technology in Bamban, Tarlac which was raided and eventually linked to Bamban Mayor Alice Guo after her name appeared in the local permit application and electricity bills paid for the POGO.

No less than Finance Secretary Ralph Recto said he has no objection in banning the sector as he agreed that the social costs of POGOs outweigh the minimal contribution of its continued operation.

However, Tengco remained firm in Pagcor’s stand that when legitimate operators are banned, they will just hide, bring their equipment and continue to operate without government monitoring and supervision.

“We have no guarantee that, once we ban the legitimate operators, they will simply close shop and return to their countries of origin where they are likely to face prosecution and jail,” Tengco said.

“Worse, they could join those who are engaged in illegal activities like scamming, hacking and other cybercrimes, which would cause bigger problems to us,” he said.

Nonetheless, Pagcor noted that the gaming agency will respect whatever decision Congress will make on the issue.

It was estimated that the industry’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) continued to be negligible and remained at around 0.2 percent last year.

This is slightly below the 0.3 percent in 2022 and is a further decline from the 0.7 percent contribution to GDP during the POGO peak in 2019.

The DOF earlier said that the social ills associated with POGOs are opening up to high reputational risks which can severely affect the country’s efforts in attracting foreign direct investments.

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