Gaming regulator PAGCOR says regulatory fees collected from Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) have almost halved since the online gaming industry was granted permission to resume in May.
According to Atty. Jose Tria, PAGCOR’s Assistant Vice President, the department had previously collected monthly fees of around Php600 million (US$12.4 million) per month but that number is now closer to Php300 million (US$6.2 million) and “should have been lower if not for the minimum guaranteed fees which allows PAGCOR to impose higher regulatory fees than [the usual] 2% of POGOs’ GGR,” the Inquirer reported.
POGOs were granted permission to resume operations in May following a seven-week shutdown due to COVID-19, however only 32 of 60 licensed POGOs have so far met the requirements to operate again – and only then at 30% capacity as per COVID regulations. Of the 218 accredited POGO service providers, only 111 are currently operational.
Tria added that of the 60 licensed POGOs at the start of 2020, five had now had their licenses cancelled and five more suspended, while 42 service providers have requested to have their accreditation cancelled due to harsher tax policies and general operational difficulties amidst COVID-19.
There have also been reports of a significant reduction in Manila office leases in recent months as a result of POGOs exiting the country, with property consultancy firm Colliers stating that around 10% of all leasable office space in Manila – around 1 million square meters – was occupied by online gaming firms.