The Philippines’ Bureau of Internal Revenue has asked for cooperation from the country’s gaming regulator regarding a requirement that foreign and Philippines-based offshore gaming operators register with the tax agency before their licences to operate can be renewed by the regulator.
“The Bureau of Internal Revenue also said it has signified its intention to join the interagency task force led by the Department of Labour and Employment and the Bureau of Immigration that aims to check and monitor the number of Chinese nationals who are working in the online gaming industry,” said the Philippine Department of Finance in a statement issued on Sunday.
“We want to trace these Chinese nationals employed by these gaming operators,” bureau deputy commissioner Arnel Guballa was quoted as saying.
Mr Guballa said that all foreign and Philippine-based gaming operators, including those with offshore licences, were now required to register with the tax agency, as a prerequisite in the renewal of their Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) licences.
The Department of Finance statement added: “All foreign-based and Philippine-based operators, including those that have already been issued an offshore gaming licence by Pagcor are required to register with the Bureau of Internal Revenue on or before the commencement of business; or before payment of any tax due; or before or upon filing of any applicable tax return, statement or declaration.”
The local authorities have for some years welcomed to the Philippines those gaming operators – or POGOs – eyeing to profit from the huge interest in online gambling by overseas players.
Pagcor started accepting applications from companies wishing to acquire a Philippines licence for offshore gaming in September 2016. More than 50 POGO licences have been issued since, according to Bloomberg news agency.
According to media reports, a significant number of POGO operations target Chinese players; therefore, that has led to large numbers of Chinese workers moving to the Philippines to support such operations. The Philippine authorities suspect many of the Chinese nationals employed by POGOs are without the necessary papers to work in the Philippines.
Last September, Pagcor stated that it had raided more than 170 unlicensed online gaming operations since 2017. The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported at the time – quoting an “industry insider” – that hundreds of Chinese had been detained. An estimated 100,000 Chinese worked in the targeted online gaming operations in the Philippines because the sector dealt mainly with Chinese gamblers and so required proficiency in Mandarin, the newspaper reported at the time.
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”Our own consensus is that any newcomers to this [junket] sector should be corporatised, and should be financially sound and able to commit a higher guarantee deposit”
Kwok Chi Chung
President of junket trade body, the Macau Association of Gaming and Entertainment Promoters