MANILA—The Philippine online gaming sector is depriving the government of its revenue share because while it is played here bettors are outside of the country.
“There is no way to monitor how much they should pay the government. So what should they pay? How do we compute? This is part of what we should look into,” Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero said Thursday.
Escudero, chair of the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies, also questioned who is really regulating the country’s online gaming sector.
Currently, PAGCOR is asserting authority over online gambling in the country with emphasis, based on a statement it issued that all online licensing “fall within the bound of its charter to operate, authorize and license games of chance, games of cards and games of numbers in the Philippines.”
He said that he sees the position of PAGCOR as “a question of correct interpretation of the law” that needs to be clarified.
The senator explained that when PAGCOR was created under Presidential Decree No. 1602, the concept of gaming in its charter is “territorial and land-based” and internet connection was nonexistent.
He further said that it is only during the framing of Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) and Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APECO) was online gaming specifically included in their charters.
Moreover, he added that PAGCOR’s basis for issuing licenses to online gaming operators was anchored on the authority granted to CEZA and APECO.
“If we are talking about the liability of gaming operation, it should always be resolved in favor of the national government, not in favor of the entity or any of the entities engaged in gambling,” Escudero said.
“We need to address this issue with finality so we can finally plug the loopholes in foregone revenues from offshore gaming and put to rest the issue of the legality or illegality of its operation in the country” he added.