Philippines allows China-centric online casinos to restart

Only 30 per cent of a Philippine offshore gaming operator's work force per shift will be allowed to operate. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (BLOOMBERG) - The Philippines has allowed online casinos targeting Chinese gamblers to partly resume operations amid a lockdown on the main Luzon island.

"The decision was reached with the intention of helping the national government raise necessary funds to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic," the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp said in a statement.

Only 30 per cent of a Philippine offshore gaming operator's workforce per shift will be allowed to operate, the regulator said.

Employees who will report back to work must be tested for Covid-19, with social distancing and wearing of masks practised at all times, it added.

The gaming agency requires Philippine offshore gaming operators, or Pogos, to remit 2 per cent of their gross gaming revenue as regulatory fees.

Such fees brought in revenue of 5.73 billion pesos (S$160 million) in 2019, and 1.8 billion pesos in the first quarter of this year.

Prior to resuming operations, Pogos and their service providers must settle all their tax liabilities with the Bureau of Internal Revenue and update their payment of regulatory fees, the gaming agency said.

The regulator said as many as 31,556 Filipinos work in the industry, which pays property companies 25 billion pesos on leaseholds and rentals on about one million sq m of office space.

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