President Rodrigo Duterte (MNS photo)

MANILA, Sept 23 (Mabuhay) — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved a law setting up a tax regime for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs), Malacañang said on Thursday.

Duterte on Wednesday signed Republic Act 11590 taxing POGOs, said his spokesman Harry Roque.

“Bahagi ito sa ating mahigpit na pagri-regulate ng lahat ng klase ng gambling at pagbabawal ng ilegal na sugal,” he said in a press briefing.

Sixty percent of revenues collected from offshore gambling will be used for the universal health care program, while 20 percent will go to the enhancement of medical facilities and the remaining 20 percent to “sustainable development goals,” he said.

POGOs in 2019 yielded P6.42 billion in collections, Sen. Pia Cayetano earlier said.

However, the government could have collected around P38 billion from POGOs that year alone, said Cayetano, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

Critics of the reopening of POGOs earlier cited alleged crimes linked to the industry, including bribery for the entry of Chinese workers, trafficking, prostitution, money laundering and tax violations, among others.

POGOs were suspended in 2020, along with other non-essential businesses, when the COVID-19 lockdown was imposed. Before they could reopen, they were asked to settle tax liabilities.

Last month, a Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation official said the number of POGOs in the country has been reduced to half as many have moved to other countries.  (MNS)

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