Philippines to Collect Tax from Over 100,000 Online Gaming Staff

City of Dreams resort, hotel, and casino in Manila, Philippines
The Philippines administration is going to tax more than 100,000 online gaming staff members.

30-second summary

  • Tax revenue to be collected from over 100,000 online gaming staff, mostly Chinese workers
  • Philippines government faces backlash over loose immigration policy toward Chinese workers
  • 200,000 Chinese workers applied for work permits to the Philippines in 2018

Work haven in the Philippines

The Philippines is going to tax foreign online casino workers in the country, which is expected to raise 22 billion pesos ($418m; £318m) in revenue.

According to a report from the Nikkei Asian Review, the move comes at a time when the country’s president, Rodrigo Duterte, faces backlash because of the increasing number of Chinese workers in the Philippines. The money collected will come from more than 100,000 online gaming industry staff members, most of whom are Chinese.

That comes after reports suggesting that many of the workers are believed to be evading income tax payments.

According to the report, the Duterte administration has secured billions of dollars’ worth of economic deals from China. However, at the same time, it has received negativity because of its loose immigration policy toward Chinese workers.

In a statement issued today, Carlos Dominguez, the Philippines finance secretary, said: “We have to get a clear picture here. If we do not have that, how can the BIR [Bureau of Internal Revenue] do its job, which is to collect taxes from everybody so that we are being fair to all Filipinos who are paying their taxes?”

Data from the Bureau of Immigration shows that more than 200,000 Chinese workers applied for work permits for the Philippines in 2018. Of this figure, 90% were to work in online casino-related jobs. This type of job pays a worker roughly 78,000 pesos ($1,480; £1,126) a month. This is subject to a 25% income tax.

Dominguez continued in his statement: “We have to go after these guys because they are not paying taxes. Simple. We hope that everybody will be 100% cooperative here so that these guys can get their taxes collected.”

Gambling in the Philippines

The gambling market in the Philippines has received mixed reviews. Even though the nation is attracting a significant number of Chinese workers, the country’s president hasn’t favored the industry.

It was reported last August that President Duterte had rejected plans to build a $550m (£419m) casino on the island of Boracay. This was despite the fact that four overseas casinos had declared their intentions of getting involved with the gambling market in the Philippines.

Not only that but it was noted in September that the president was intent on reining in the gambling market, in particular online gambling if companies failed to get the appropriate licenses from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

Fast-forward to earlier today, when it was reported that a crackdown on illegal gambling in the Philippines has been successful. According to the report, a campaign by PAGCOR to crackdown on illegal gambling has resulted in the number of unlicensed operators falling from 30,000 to less than 200, largely because of the combined effort by the PAGCOR and the Philippine National Police.

Yet, while the country’s administration may not be in favor of the market, it’s intent on claiming back tax from the foreign workers who are flocking to the country to work in this industry. It remains to be seen if this will produce any impact on the number of Chinese workers who may think twice about applying for a work permit.