The country’s gaming regulator has allowed Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (Pogo) to resume partial operations, saying revenues from online casinos catering to Chinese players could help finance the government campaign against the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) said licensed Pogo firms may restart operations after a six-week hiatus “subject to stringent conditions.”

Citing revenues from POGOs as a significant source of funds that would supplement efforts to deal with the health crisis, Pagcor chair and CEO Andrea Domingo said the agency allowed the partial reopening on condition that the companies adhere to guidelines prescribed by the government under the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) scheme.

Prior to resumption of operations, Pogos and their service providers were ordered to strictly adhere to all of Pagcor’s prerequisites including the updating and settlement of all their tax liabilities, as certified by the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

Pogos were also required to update their payments of regulatory fee, license fee, performance bond or penalties due Pagcor.

They were also ordered to remit regulatory fees due in April and show readiness to implement safety protocol.

The Pagcor chief said the suspension of Pogo operations deprived the agency of as much as P600 million in monthly revenue.

Pagcor is the third-largest revenue generating agency of the Philippine government after the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs.

Domingo said Pagcor wants Pogo firms to improve safety protocol to help ensure that their employees will be protected from coronavirus infection and not transmit this.

Among the safety measures included the permission of only 30 percent workforce per shift in authorized operating sites.

Shuttle services should ferry employees from places of residence to their offices. Temperature checks would be done at office entries. Social distancing would be required. Offices should have been sanitized and disinfected. Employees should wear masks at all times.

Employees who are either confirmed or suspected

of carrying coronavirus would not be allowed to work. Vulnerable groups, like the sick, immunococompromised, seniors, pregnant women and those with comorbidities, would not be deployed.

Those who will report back to work, whether Filipino or foreign national, must be tested for COVID-19 and must obtain a negative test result from a testing facility registered with the Food and Drug Administration. An isolation room must be set up for employees who may start to exhibit symptoms of the virus, Pagcor ordered.

Edited by TSB


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