By Nonilon G. Reyes and Cai U. Ordinario
THE Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) shut down on Wednesday a Philippine offshore gaming operator (Pogo), billed the second biggest in the country, for its failure to pay the appropriate taxes.
The BIR, which led an interagency raid on Great Empire Gaming and Amusement Corporation (“Gegac”) for its failure to register for Value Added Tax (VAT), padlocked its offices that occupied 11 floors of a building in Libis, Quezon City.
The Department of Finance said the company, with over 8,100 employees, also has offices at the Subic Freeport and Aseana City, Parañaque.
No employees were arrested, as the tax agency said it had jurisdiction only over the corporation and its compliance with tax laws.
‘Results of the investigation showed that GEGAC is not registered for VAT purposes, violating the Section 108 vis-a-vis with Section 115 of the Tax Code as certified by the Revenue District Office 019 – Subic Bay Freeport Zone,’ BIR said.
The Closure Order was issued by Deputy Commissioner for Operations Group Arnel SD. Guballa.
BIR said the actions of Task Force Pogo, which padlocked the offices of Gegac, were guided by the directive from Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez, who in the past six months had led an interagency campaign to get all Pogos in the country to comply with immigration, labor and tax laws.
The company, the BIR said, violated Section 115(b), in relation to Section 236 of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, as amended (Tax Code).
Earlier, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) disclosed that it has imposed a moratorium on the issuance of licenses to new Pogos.
Pagcor Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Andrea Domingo said the moratorium, which will last until the end of the year, will likely negatively affect its Gross Gaming Revenues (GGR).
Domingo said, however, that imposing a moratorium on the issuance of new licenses will give Pagcor time to take stock of the situation of Pogos and what policies can be crafted moving forward.
Domingo said the number of Pagcor licensed Pogos could reach 61 by yearend. To date, there are 58 Pogos operating and three more are expected to be approved.
The three Pogo applications that may or may not be approved by yearend would be the last for the year, as Pagcor started to embark on its review of Pogo policies two to three weeks ago