Philippines Implements New Income Tax Framework for Casino Workers

  • Tax regime to align with country's tax laws and hold stricter control over gambling industry
  • Aimed at regularizing Chinese workers employed by Philippine casinos
  • New framework expected to net around $418m a year for the state
Philippine pesos and dice laid on top of a deck of playing cards
The Philippines is restructuring how casino workers will pay income tax, making it easier to crack down on illegal gambling operators.

Compliance with new regulations

The Philippines has set up a new framework to ensure that the wages of over 100,000 casino workers are aligned with the country’s income tax laws.

With many Chinese workers taking jobs at casinos in the Philippines, just who these employees pay tax to and how much has always been in question. The new framework is a culmination of combined effort on the part of the government and industry operatives to help clarify this grey area.

Currently, there are 55 operators licensed in the Philippines for gambling casinos. Now, to maintain their license, they must comply with the new regulations that are being put in place. All employees will take part in the Social Security System and the Home Development Mutual Fund. The intentions for this measure were reported earlier this year, and plans have now been confirmed.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III explained how the agreement came to fruition:

We met twice with the biggest POGO operator and told him that he and the rest of the operators have to comply with the provisions of the law, this means a tax on income earned by all their employees, whether foreigners or Filipinos.”

Illegalities under control

The Bureau of Internal Revenue will now find it easier to crack down on any unregistered operators, as those without the correct documents will be classed as illegal. The Bureau has confirmed it will start withholding taxes from foreign workers starting this month, thought to be worth an estimated 2 billion pesos ($3.8m; £2.8m).

It is understood that the move will also boost income for the Philippine state while operators get to grips with the new framework.

Online gaming growth

Officials believe that the taxes to be collected from the industry, which includes both casinos and online gaming operations, will amount to 22 billion pesos ($418m; £318m) a year. This is only possible thanks to a new set of regulations completed in 2016, which were devised by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR).

The regulations allow offshore gaming companies to use networks and software for authorized players. A raft of technological measures, including know-your-customer rules, prohibit foreign nationals and Filipinos from gambling online.

This move follows a number of initiatives that are aimed at bringing the gambling sector under control. A recent campaign by PAGCOR to crack down on illegal gambling has resulted in the number of unlicensed operators falling from 30,000 to less than 200, largely owing to the collaboration of the PAGCOR and the Philippine National Police.