Pagcor orders Entertainment City casinos to pay up

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) has ordered the four casinos at Entertainment City to immediately restore the 10 percent license fee cut that was granted to them by the previous administration.

According to a report from the Manila Bulletin, Pagcor chairperson Andrea D. Domingo said the regulator has already notified Travellers International Hotel Group Inc., Bloomberry Resorts and Hotels Inc., MCE Leisure (Philippines) Corp. and Tiger Resorts Leisure and Entertainment Inc. about the order.

Domingo explained there was no other option but to reinstate the original fees after the Commission on Audit (COA) warned the gaming regulator about the imposition of special rates for some casinos that resulted in P7 billion in foregone income.

“They [Entertainment City licensees] are of course objecting,” Domingo told the Manila Bulletin. “We furnished them a copy of the AOM [audit observation memorandum] on this matter issued by our COA Resident Auditor.”

The lowering of license fees came in May 2014, after the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) brought a 30-percent income tax to gaming companies.

Before the reduction, Pagcor had originally proposed a 15 percent share from casinos’ gross gaming revenues from high roller tables and junket operations and 25 percent on gross gaming income from non-high roller tables, slot machines and electronic gaming machines.

Domingo said that gambling casino operators would have to honor their contract with Pagcor and pay the appropriate license fees as agreed between the regulator and the private entities.

She also added that Pagcor, as a state owned and controlled company, is mandated by law to follow the order by government auditors.

“What’s on the contract should be followed and what the auditor is saying should be followed,” Domingo said.