Affinity Group Predict IOM Will See POGO Influx

The Affinity Group indicates that a tax rise for Philippine offshore gaming operators could lead to an influx of companies looking to relocate to the Isle of Man.

The company, which guides the company through application and approval procedures, states that after facing a more than double tax increase in the Philippines, industry incumbents are considering their options.

This will see POGOs, companies approved to provide offshore gaming facilities by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, have to pay a 5 percent turnover tax, replacing the previous 2 percent gross sales tax.

As part of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, the bill was recently signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte, as the Philippines aims to finance its economic recovery from the current health pandemic.

Alex Gardner, director of Affinity Group, clarified that failure to comply could lead to a licence loss. He said: “The Philippines has historically been a jurisdiction chosen by Asian-facing operators but, following the recent negative press surrounding POGO and more recently the tax increase, we have seen an influx of enquiries from operators who are looking for a suitable licence to either continue or start targeting the Asian market.

“The Isle of Man is perfect for this having developed an international reputation as being a leader in the egaming industry and is already home to some of the biggest Asian facing operators in the world.

“If you are a start-up considering an Isle of Man Licence or are looking to move your existing operation from the Philippines, the Affinity team have the necessary skills and expertise to manage your egaming business and guide you through the licence application and approval process.

“We will work with you to find the most tax efficient solution, introduce you to local service providers and guide you through government grant and licence applications.”

Earlier in the year, PAGCOR and the Bureau of Internal Revenue announced that all POGOs and their service providers must meet certain prerequisites before resuming their operations, including the settlement of any outstanding tax liabilities as certified by the BIR, the updating of the payment of any regulatory fees, licence fees, performance bonds or penalties owed to PAGCOR, and the remittance of any outstanding tax liabilities as certified by the BIR. As part of the COVID-19 lockdown, all 60 licensees were forced to suspend operations.

Franklin Drilon, the Filipino politician, said: “The Bayanihan 2 will more than double the tax collection from POGO, from Php7bn (US$144.5m) estimated collection in 2019 to approximately Php17.5bn (US$361.2m) this year because of the reforms we have introduced in the measure.

“All revenues from POGO will be used to fund the various types of assistance laid out in the Bayanihan 2 for all sectors affected by the pandemic.”