PAGCOR Announces Development of Two POGO Hubs

  • Two hubs will be located in Cavite and the Clark Economic Zone
  • Development of two further hubs is on pause due to the pandemic
  • The plan is to make POGO regulation easier, as they will be more centrally located
  • PAGCOR is constantly battling illegal operators that divert significant revenue from the state
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PAGCOR has announced the development of two hubs for POGOs in order to better monitor the industry. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Coming together

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has announced that two hubs are under development that will serve as the home for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs).

PAGCOR offshore gaming licensing assistant vice president Jose Tria outlined these new developments while speaking at a House of Representatives committee on appropriations hearing.

two hubs are in Cavite and the Clark Economic Zone

The two hubs are in Cavite and the Clark Economic Zone; two other hubs are unable to be developed at this time as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Tria said: “We hope that they can continue with the construction so that we can already start…relocating some of the operators and service providers which have been granted by the BIR [Bureau of Internal Revenue] their clearances.”

Fighting against illegal operations

The government has been proposing POGO hubs since 2019, with over ₱20bn ($411m) worth of revenue estimated to have been lost as a result of not effectively regulating the sector. 

Any operators that were not paying taxes have since been shut down by the authorities. These closed POGOs can only restart their operations once all of their unpaid taxes have been settled and they receive the relevant certification from the BIR.

Lawmakers did note during the hearing that there has been an increase in the level of criminal activity allegedly related to POGO workers, including prostitution and kidnapping. The majority of the POGO workers are from China.

PAGCOR has been working with the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police to deal with these issues. The new hubs will help PAGCOR separate the licensed POGOS from those that are operating illegally in the Philippines. 

Getting back to business

PAGCOR was losing about $118m per month because of pandemic shutdowns. The organization did, however, raise more than ₱14.5bn ($298m) from its operators to help fight the battle against COVID-19.

To date, 29 operators have been able to restart their operations since closing down during the pandemic. Casinos in the capital of Manila are now able to reopen, albeit with 30% capacity and extensive health and safety restrictions in place. The four major casino resort operators in the region saw $271.4m in total losses in the second-quarter as a result of the pandemic.