The head of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), Andrea Domingo, says that the gaming regulator has so far approved the establishment of two areas in the country for Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs).
“It’s easier for us to regulate when they [POGOs] are in hubs,” Ms Domingo told reporters on the sidelines of the Phil-Asian Gaming Expo (PAGE) 2019. The official said additionally that there would be “some special privileges” to entice POGOs to move into such hubs.
Ms Domingo said Pagcor has so far approved two hubs: one in the Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone, with about 10 hectares (24.7 acres), and the second planned for Kawit, in the southern province of Cavite, with some 30 hectares.
According to Pagcor, POGO licences for operators located at special hubs are valid for three years and renewable for seven years, compared to three years with a three-year extension for those operating outside such areas.
The Business World news outlet reported that such hubs will have office and residential space; food outlets; grocery and convenience stores; and shops for other services, as well as facilities for health, well-being and entertainment. State agencies that have a role in POGO regulation will also have offices in those areas, added the outlet.
POGOs are said to be expanding aggressively and as of end-June, they leased 242,000 square metres (2,604,866 sq feet) in Metro Manila, according to data from Leechiu Property Consultants quoted by Bloomberg news agency.
As of March, the country’s Bureau of Internal Revenue had 54 POGO licensees on its list, of which 10 were local companies and 44 were offshore operators. At that time, seven of the local operators and only eight of the offshore licensees had been registered with the tax bureau, reported the Business Mirror.
Authorities in the Philippines are trying to reign in on the expansion and trying to regulate better these operators, including to account for foreign workers in the industry. Bloomberg reported that the Philippine government estimated that 138,000 people, mostly Chinese nationals, are working in online casinos that cater to overseas punters.
Kevin Wong, general manager of Oriental Game, said the company is investing more than PHP8 billion (US$156.4 million) to build the two hubs for POGOs so far approved by Pagcor. Oriental Game is described as one of the country’s leading online operators.
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Chairman of the Kyushu IR Promotion Council