CoA cites non-revocation of 2 POGOs’ licenses

STATE AUDITORS flagged the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) for not revoking the licenses of two Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) despite failure to pay financial obligations for two consecutive months.

According to its 2022 audit report posted online on June 19, 2023, the Commission on Audit (CoA) said that “two POGOs were still allowed to operate despite continued non-payment of their financial obligation for more than two months totaling to P34.65 million.”

Under PAGCOR regulations, an operator’s failure to pay its dues to the government is grounds for license revocation.

In response to CoA, the PAGCOR management said the two POGOs requested an extension to settle their financial obligations. “POGO A” was given until June 8 while “POGO B” was granted its “request for reconsideration” on February 27.

PAGCOR and CoA have yet to reply to e-mails seeking updates on the status of the two gaming operators.

CoA also noted that PAGCOR’s accounts receivable from POGOs denominated in foreign currency worth P2.33 billion were not revalued as of Dec. 31, 2022, resulting to an understatement.

It noted that the conversion of the accounts receivable from POGOs “would amount to P2.57 billion instead of P2.33 billion” based on prevailing exchange rates.

CoA recommended that PAGCOR develop or update its guidelines to properly monitor its accounts receivable denominated in foreign currencies.

Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, who heads the ways and means committee, earlier this month pushed to end POGO operations in the country following a human trafficking case in a POGO hub in Clark, Pampanga.

PAGCOR said last week that it will impose heavier penalties on licensed offshore gaming operators and accredited service providers committing illegal activities.

Measures seeking to ban online gambling are pending in Congress.

At the local level, the Valenzuela City government has recently approved the banning of offshore gaming operators within its jurisdiction, the second to do so after Pasig City in December last year. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz