Duterte seeks legalization of POGOs- Manila Times

Inside:

*Online Gambling in China is Illegal- gamblingsites.org

*China wants Philippines to Ban online gambling- rappler.com

*Cambodia formally closes door on online gaming - agbrief.com

*PNP to step up drive vs POGO-related crimes in the Philippines - philstar.com

*Philippine government loses P51B to POGO 'tax evasion' - gmanetwork.com

*8 of 11 licensed POGOs refuse to pay licensing fees: BIR - news.abscbn.com

Photo: China to PH: Ban all online gambling https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1078352


President Rodrigo Duterte has urged Congress to pass a law to further regulate Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) in the country instead of shutting them down amid allegations that they were being used for illegal activities.


Duterte made the statement over lawmakers’ accusations that the POGOs have led to the rise of criminal activities such as money-laundering, prostitution and kidnapping, among others, in the country.

“I want it legalized. If they can pass a law about POGO, fine, go ahead. Supervise it by law. Hindi kami (Not us),” he said in a news briefing in Malacañang late Monday night.

Sen. Richard Gordon previously led a Senate inquiry into the alleged crimes and stacks of cash brought into the country by POGOs, which were believed to be used to launder money.

Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) Executive Director Mel Georgie Racela has said at least P14 billion worth of transactions by POGOs were related to suspicious activities.

The President, however, said the government obtained a list of bank deposits and found no proof of money laundering activities in connection with POGOs.

“There is a report of money laundering.

There are around 60 POGOs operating in the country, according to Pagcor.

In November last year, Duterte imposed a three-day deadline for delinquent POGOs to settle their tax liabilities after the Finance department estimated P2 billion in withholding taxes from foreigners working in the gaming sector.

More supervision The AMLC on Tuesday recommend several measures in regulating internet-based casinos or POGOs. Due to the gaps in the sector, the study recommended increasing the level of anti-money laundering/counterterrorism financing effectiveness of compliance and supervision through training and workshops; revisiting the supervision of POGOs and service providers (SPs), conducting a regulatory assessment and enforcing actions; reevaluating the licenses of POGOs and the certificates of authority/operation issued to SPs; and recommending the cancellation of licenses of POGOs/certificates of accreditation of SPs with unfavorable records. The AMLC also suggested the execution of memoranda of agreements between appropriate government agencies and AMLC, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), law enforcement agencies and other relevant agencies to identify and curb illegally operating casinos; issuance of guidance from supervisors comprised of the BSP, Securities and Exchange Commission, Insurance Commission and AMLC to their respective covered persons to conduct enhanced due diligence on internet-based casinos and SPs; and dissemination of the study to supervising agencies, and law enforcement agencies. In its published study, “Understanding the Internet-Based Casino Sector in the Philippines: A Risk Assessment,” AMLC said POGOs had an estimated value of proceeds based on suspicious transaction reports from 2013 to 2019 amounting to P14.01 billion The AMLC investigated internet-based casinos and SPs offering services such as gaming software, content streaming and other components of gaming operations to qualified non-Filipino gaming patrons located outside the Philippines. The council conducted on-site checks on POGOs cited by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. and discovered that authorized representatives do not exist in the registered addresses provided. “There are also no actual local agents and/or authorized representatives in the Philippines, which is a requirement for a foreign-based operator,” AMLC said. With a report from MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO 

Source: https://www.manilatimes.net/2020/03/11/news/top-stories/duterte-seeks-legalization-of-pogos/702071/amp/?__twitter_impression=true&fbclid=IwAR2DYV8vbbutSrFUzdhV5J7ZGi8RkviL_LgAvtp051s2e8vgI2AmOiCTf74


Online Gambling in China is Illegal

Mainland China is strictly anti-gambling. Both online and offline wagering are illegal with both punishable by fines and imprisonment. This goes for both operators and patrons. The country even attempts to block citizens’ access to online casinos via the Great Firewall of China.

Source: https://www.gamblingsites.org/laws/china/


China wants Philippines to ban online gambling

China also wants to 'jointly tackle criminal activities including online gambling and cyber fraud,' saying it would help development relations between Manila and Beijing

China on Wednesday, August 21, asked the Philippines to ban all forms of online gambling as it lauded the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation's (Pagcor) recent move to suspend accepting applications for Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO).

Source: https://www.rappler.com/nation/238192-china-wants-philippines-ban-online-gambling


Cambodia formally closes door on online gaming

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has officially closed the door on online gambling in a parliamentary hearing on Friday.

The Kingdom won’t issue any further licenses and will not renew existing ones once they expire. In Cambodia, the renewal of gaming licences normally takes place in January, meaning existing online gaming licences will only be valid until the end of the year.

Cambodia’s ban follows Beijing’s decision to crackdown on online gambling targeting its citizens.

The government made three main points in a memorandum announcing the measures.

1) Any form of online gaming, both domestically and internationally would be totally banned.

2) The Ministry of Economics & Finance has been given a directive by Prime Minister Hun Sen not to renew existing online gaming licences and there will be no new issuance of online gaming licences moving forward.

3) The government will continue to crack down on local and online gambling businesses. Some foreign entities have resorted to using online gambling as a front to extort and scam money from innocent victims at home and abroad, resulting in chaos in security, public and social orders, it claims.

In a strongly worded statement in August, China urged international cooperation and warned it would not tolerate Chinese nationals gambling overseas. Cambodia was quick to respond flagging its intention to ban the practice. The Philippines has also put a temporary suspension on the issuance of new licenses. The decision affects many of the land-based licensees in Cambodia, especially in Sihanoukville, where online and proxy betting are the main drivers of revenue. Billions of dollars have flooded into the once sleepy seaside town, fuelling a massive construction boom.

Mainland Chinese are reported to now be leaving the country en masse.

Source: https://agbrief.com/headline/cambodia-formally-closes-door-on-online-gaming/

PNP to step up drive vs POGO-related crimes in the Philippines

The Philippine National Police (PNP) vowed yesterday to launch an intensified crackdown on criminal syndicates operating within Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO) firms as it announced the rescue of two Chinese nationals just the other day in Pampanga.

Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, PNP spokesman, said the Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) have been tasked to curb the rising number of kidnappings and other crimes committed within the POGO industry.

“We will intensify our operations,” Banac said in a phone interview, a day after Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian called on the PNP, Bureau of Immigration (BI) and National Bureau of Investigation to hunt down criminal syndicates operating in POGO companies.

He said that even before the senator made that appeal, the PNP has been operating against crime syndicates victimizing Chinese workers.

Banac cited how latest operation of the AKG in Clark, Pampanga last Monday resulted in the rescue of two Chinese men from their abductors.

Read more...https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2020/02/26/1996105/pnp-step-drive-vs-pogo-related-crimes

Philippine government loses P51B to POGO 'tax evasion'

Philippine Offshore Gaming Operation (POGO) operators' "skirting" of our tax laws  has cost the government some P51 billion in revenues, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said Sunday.

Based on his calculations, Gatchalian told Dobol B sa News TV that the Bureau of Internal Revenue has only collected P11 billion from POGOs, when the amount should have been P62 billion.

"Ang nangyayari ay pinapalusutan tayo nitong mga POGO sa ating bansa. Meron silang tinatawag na off-shore companies, so ibig sabihin dito sila nag-ooperate pero hindi sila nagbabayad ng taxes kasi ang kanilang sinasabi ay hindi naman sila Philippine-registered, sila ay off-shore-registered," he said.

"Ito ay consistent doon sa sinabi ng BIR sa hearing na hindi nila mapuwersang kolektahan itong mga off-shore na POGO dahil hindi sila nakarehistro dito," the senator added.

Out of the 60 POGO licenses issued by the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation, only 11 are registered in the Philippines while the rest are foreign-registered, Gatchalian pointed out.

Source: https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/money/companies/726989/philippine-government-loses-p51b-to-pogo-tax-evasion-gatchalian/story/

8 of 11 licensed POGOs refuse to pay licensing fees: BIR

Eight of the 11 Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) who currently have permits from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) have been refusing to pay licensing fees, a tax official said Thursday, as a Senate panel studied if internet gambling should still be allowed in the country.

Among the 11 current internet gambling licensees, only 3 POGO firms are paying the 5 percent Philippine franchise tax, said Arnel Guballa, deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

"Their (POGOs) assertion is that, 'We are offshore, we are outside the Philippine jurisdiction,' but the contention of BIR is, 'Since you registered with PAGCOR, then you are under Philippine law,'" Guballa told senators.

It was the Office of the Solicitor General that said that "foreign-based operators are not liable to 5 percent (franchise tax)," said Dave Fermin Sevilla, who chairs PAGCOR's Anti-Money Laundering Supervision and Enforcement Department.

In 2019, Solicitor General Jose Calida said that POGOs cannot be taxed because offshore operations are considered outside the Philippines. Economic officials had refuted Calida's opinion, saying the Department of Finance has been pushing to tax the Chinese-run sector.

Source: https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/03/05/20/8-of-11-licensed-pogos-refuse-to-pay-licensing-fees-bir


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