THE Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said it shut down 18 Philippine Offshore Gaming Operation (POGO) licensees and support service providers in Cagayan Province after they failed to register with the bureau.

The BIR, in a statement dated Feb. 15, said the licensees and their support service providers were temporarily closed after they were found to have been unregistered by its POGO task force.

The POGOs were all licensed by the Cagayan Economic Export Zone Authority to engage in interactive gaming.

The licensees shut down were Asian BGE Ltd.; Fine Day Holdings Ltd.; Hana Talk, Inc.; NCGAC Ltd.; NEO Kingdom Ltd.; Oak Tree Services Ltd.; Succeed Asia Ltd.; Wealthy Leap; and WUS Technologies Holdings Ltd.

Meanwhile, the support service providers were identified as Alpha Fortune Management Solutions, Inc.; Empire Group International & Management Tech Services, Inc.; Hi-Source Services, Inc.; Kui Business Services, Inc.; Lyndhurst Services, Inc.; Pacific Solutions Management; Rimrock ICT Services, Inc.; Succeed Asia Ventures, Inc.; and Top Asia Leisure and Entertainment Corp.

According to Republic Act No. 11590 or the POGO Law, offshore gaming companies must register with the BIR because they do business in the Philippines. Non-registration exposes the companies and their service providers to the risk of closure.

Business operations will remain suspended until they meet the bureau’s registration requirements, comply with tax rules, and pay tax deficiencies and penalties.

An Act Taxing Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations, or Republic Act No. 11590, which more clearly defined POGO tax obligations, took effect on Oct. 9, 2021.

Since the implementation date up to Dec. 31, the BIR collected P1.22 billion from licensees, service providers, and employees.

As of the end of January, 40 POGO licensees and 168 service providers are registered with the BIR.

The bureau has said that the most common violations of POGOs that lead to closure are non-registration with the BIR, non-registration of tax types to which POGOs are subject to pay, and non-payment or underpayment of taxes. — Jenina P. Ibañez