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Licensed POGOs not illegal — PAGCOR

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) said that the public should not question licensed Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) as they are monitored by the government and legally contribute their income.

PAGCOR issued the clarification after the Porac, Pampanga raid due to illegal POGO activities last June 9.

Alejandro Tengco, PAGCOR chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), then appealed to the public not to "demonize" legal gaming operators who are registered as the governing body closely monitors them. It added that licensed POGOs contribute over P5 billion in the agency’s gross revenues in 2023.

“Our licensees pay taxes, and they help provide legitimate jobs and livelihood to a lot of people,” he added.

Tengco said the groups of alien hacking and scam syndicates (AHaSS) are more concerning.

“To us, the real threat is the alien hacking and scam syndicates who operate underground, and they are the ones that our law enforcement agencies are trying to locate and dismantle, and we are cooperating fully with the authorities in this regard,” he said.

To make sure that registered POGO businesses are complying with the legal terms of their licenses, PAGCOR has also created monitoring teams in legit POGO venues like land-based casinos.

Moreover, those who violate the terms could face fines, penalties, and in some serious cases, have their business revoked and bonds to be forfeited to the agency.

According to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), failing to acquire a Tax Identification Number (TIN) for employees will pose a P20,000 fine, while those who bypass gambling regulators and commit fraud by not registering their gaming firm to PAGCOR or tax evasion would be subject to forced closure of operations.

“We do not need to outlaw POGOs; what we need to do is intensify anti-crime operations against suspected alien hackers, against scammers and cyber-criminals who are usually hiding in highly secured buildings and compounds,” the PAGCOR chief stressed.

Tengco added that some criminal syndicates are those not involved in offshore gaming. If they fall under a POGO, this would be deemed illegal.