PAGCOR Chair Highlights Significant Improvements in POGO Sector After Major Reforms
- POGOs now called IGLs contributed PHP5 billion in revenue to the government in 2023
- The number of operators fell to 48, with unlicensed firms now blocked from operating in PH
- PAGCOR boss is opposing proposals for a POGO ban as it would lead to thousands of job losses
Alejandro Tengco, chairman of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) said stricter rules being implemented for Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) have had positive results so far.
He noted that while the number of operators has dropped significantly since new measures came into effect, revenue collection has become more efficient. The PAGCOR boss has opposed proposals for a POGO ban, citing the impact it would have on thousands of Filipino workers.
PAGCOR Chief Sees Major Progress in POGO Industry
POGOs have faced increasing scrutiny over the last few years due to multiple criminal cases linked to the sector. This has led to calls for a complete ban on such firms, with the Department of Finance and the National Economic and Development Authority becoming the latest to support the move. Both agencies agree that the POGO industry must be dismantled because its negative social impact far outweighs the economic benefits it provides.
However, for Tengco, the POGO sector has quite improved since new rules took effect last year. With the introduction of new taxes and registration requirements and the ongoing crackdown on illegal firms by PAGCOR, the number of POGOs operating in the country has now significantly dropped from 200 to 48, Tengco revealed in a meeting this week with business journalists.
Revenue collection has also become more efficient, with all 48 operators bringing in PHP5 billion in revenues to the government in 2023 alone compared to the PHP7 billion during their pre-pandemic peak. Furthermore, the number of criminal cases associated with the sector has also dropped compared to the time when many unauthorized firms were still operating.
POGO Ban Would Impact Thousands of Jobs
Such developments should encourage POGO critics and ban proponents to reconsider their stance, Tengco suggested, noting that shutting down the industry would result in thousands of Filipinos losing their jobs.
PAGCOR now uses the new term, “Internet Gaming Licensee” or IGL for offshore gaming companies licensed to operate in the Philippines. The new term is in line with new rules implemented for the sector which include a requirement for existing operators to re-apply for a new license.
The reforms have led some operators to withdraw from the country and move their operations to Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates which is expected to launch its own regulated gaming market in the future. PAGCOR has not received any new applications for IGL, but Tengco said he would welcome more IGLs operating in the Philippines.