By Chino S. Leyco
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) warned offshore gaming operators and service providers that they will be penalized once found their companies are employing undocumented foreign nationals.
While foreign workers are under the regulatory authorities of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as well as the Bureau of Immigration, Pagcor said it wants to be assured that lawful employment is being practiced by all accredited offshore gaming companies.
“Employing undocumented foreign workers by licensed operations and their accredited service providers is a violation warranting imposition of demerits, fines and other administrative penalties, without prejudice to suspension of operations and/or cancellation of license or accreditation,” Pagcor said in a statement.
Earlier, the Department of Finance (DOF) asked for a consolidated and reconciled report by the various government agencies and offices involved in screening, providing work permits and registration of foreign workers in the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) sector.
The report was asked by Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III after the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) discovered that only eight out of 44 offshore operators are registered with the tax agency.
Dominguez estimated that the government is losing at least P3 billion a month due to uncollected personal income taxes from foreigners working in the POGO industry.
For this reason revealed by the BIR, Pagcor said, “We require applicants for offshore gaming licenses submission of their company registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission, in view of the latter’s requirement for a Tax Identification Number.”
Since 2016, Pagcor has collected P11.9 billion from POGO operations in the country.
“In the Philippines, POGO operations is a big and multi-faceted industry. For it to develop, it entails employment and necessitates other industries such as real estate, service as in food and transportation, construction, telecommunication, to name a few,” Pagcor said.
“While gaming operations fall within the ambit of the gaming industry thereby subjecting the same to pertinent regulatory bodies such as Pagcor, other components of operations fall under the jurisdiction of afore-cited sectors making each component subjected to the regulation of each concerned government agencies,” it added.
Amid controversies the influx of foreign workers in the Philippines, Pagcor assured its commitment to “uphold the integrity of gaming in the country.”
Pagcor also said it is now coordinating with the government’s inter-agency efforts in regulating offshore gaming operations.
“Pagcor has always supported the government’s policy of equitable and progressive taxation, lawful employment, and promotion of public welfare,” it said.