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Casino license ban stays pending key PAGCOR meeting

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MALACAÑANG on Monday said President Rodrigo R. Duterte has not changed his position yet on the moratorium against the licensing of new casinos, pending a meeting with the chief gaming regulator who could seek a relaxation of the ban.

“Until such time as he makes a formal statement on the matter, I think whatever his former position was, subsists,” the President’s Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said in a briefing when asked about the planned meeting of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) Chairman Andrea D. Domingo with Mr. Duterte.

According to a report by Bloomberg on Jan. 30, Ms. Domingo wanted to meet the President and that she “hoped” that the President could be “persuaded to implement a selective ban” on the issuance of new casino licenses.

Asked for an update, Mr. Panelo said: “What I know is, (Ms. Domingo) wants a meeting. But I have not heard of any such meeting. I have no info.”




Ms. Domingo and PAGCOR President and Chief Operating Officer Alfredo C. Lim were asked to comment but had yet to respond at deadline time.

In a phone message to BusinessWorld, PAGCOR Corporate Communications Assistant Vice- President Carmelita Valdez said: “We are waiting for update from the chairman.”

Also on Monday, Malacañang said it was supportive of the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) move to require the registration of Philippine-based Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs).

“That’s a good measure to determine exactly how many Chinese nationals are here in violation of our laws. I think the BIR has made a good suggestion,” Mr. Panelo said.

Asked if the government is concerned about the number of illegal Chinese workers, he said: “We’re not exactly alarmed, but the BIR wants to determine their numbers because that’s an important issue for the declaration of income, so it can collect the correct amount of corporate tax.”

In its statement Sunday, the Department of Finance quoted BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel SD. Guballa as saying: “We want to trace these Chinese nationals employed by these gaming operators. They allowed us to join the task force because we are seeking data from (the Bureau of) Immigration and The Department of Labor and Employment on the list of these foreign nationals.” — Arjay L. Balinbin