PAGCOR stops accepting new POGO applications

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 19) — A regulatory body has stopped accepting applications to open offshore gaming hubs in the wake of growing concerns about national security.

Andrea Domingo, chairman and chief executive officer of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), announced Monday that the gaming regulator has stopped accepting new license applications for Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGOs) until all concerns "have been reviewed and addressed."

Domingo said in a media briefing they have refused new applications since three weeks ago. There are currently 58 licensed POGO operators, while three other groups have pending licenses.

In July, PAGCOR approved the creation of two "self-contained" POGO hubs to limit interaction between Filipinos and Chinese workers.

Vice President Leni Robredo also proposed to temporarily stop POGO operations amid questions about legality.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana cautioned last week that foreign POGOs, mostly employing Chinese workers, may shift operations to spying. There have been questions about POGOs located near military camps and even the Senate.

Lawmaker: Keep POGOs away from military camps

The Bureau of Internal Revenue said it has collected ₱186 million in withholding taxes from POGOs since June, and is set to get ₱170 million more this month.

Lawmakers have also voiced concerns the gaming industry denying job opportunities for Filipinos, while the Department of Finance said POGOs are not remitting about ₱2 billion in monthly taxes.

Domingo said PAGCOR will also assess the societal impact of POGO companies.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Carolyn Bonquin contributed to this report.