Philippines: PAGCOR to take legal action against 33 offshore gaming operators for unpaid fees

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) is initiating legal proceedings against 33 offshore gaming license holders, including some who have left the country, for unpaid fees amounting to P2.02 billion ($35.8 million at current exchange rates).

PAGCOR said in a statement that its records show that the operators, who were given licenses during the previous administration, have not paid their license fees for over a year now in violation of Section 4.C of the Offshore Gaming Regulatory Manual.

Despite appeals by the current management, the offshore gaming operators in question have not remitted regulatory fees due to PAGCOR, its Chairman and CEO, Alejandro Tengco said.

“Because of this situation, we are duty-bound to take a legal course of action. We are now in the process of gathering pertinent information to file appropriate cases against them,” he said.

Of the 33 erring offshore gaming operators, two were billed as of May 2023 while two others were endorsed to PAGCOR’s Legal Group since February 2023. Also, while five of the operators already closed shop, Tengco warned that their refusal to abide by Philippine laws and to pay the government what is due shall be dealt with legally.

“PAGCOR will continue to ensure that all our regulated gaming entities – including offshore gaming operators and service providers – will abide by our regulatory policies, including proper payment of fees and taxes,” he said.

During a congressional hearing early this week, the PAGCOR chief said some offshore gaming operators who were granted licenses during the previous administration closed shop during the pandemic, leaving behind billions of pesos in unpaid dues.

Last week, PAGCOR said it plans to privatize 45 of its casinos by the third quarter of 2025 to streamline focus on regulatory oversight. It also announced a new regulatory framework for offshore gaming licensees recently. The regulator said that the framework is part of an “intensified inter-agency effort” to address illegal activities linked to offshore gaming operations in the country. Under the new rules, operators, and providers who have been operating illegally will not be considered for a license.