Although the Philippines continues to have an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) order on Manila, the home of many Philippine Offshore Gambling Operators (POGOs), the country’s gambling regulator has decided it’s time to start loosening its own restrictions on the industry.
On May 1, the Philippines Amusement and Gambling Corporation (PAGCOR) announced POGOs Opeations will be authorized to resume partially so long as they follow the ECQ guidelines.
Chairwoman Andrea Domingo cited the revenues of POGOs as the reason for this sudden relaxation, as they will be instrumental to the government’s fight against COVID-19.
However, before a POGOs Operations can get started, the regulator outlined four steps they must take. First, update and settle their tax liabilities with the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Secondly, pay their outstanding PAGCOR fees. Third, remit their regulatory fees for April. Lastly, they “must pass the readiness to implement safety protocols.”
PAGCOR will expect additional safety protocols to be followed during the ECQ period. Only 30% of staff will be allowed to be in the office, shuttle services must be provided to employees, and all of the standard COVID-19 protections we’ve come to expect, including social distancing and temperature checks.
Furthermore, those who have tested positive for COVID-19 may not return to work, as well as vulnerable employees, and all employees must be tested prior to returning to work.
“Even with the partial resumption of POGO operations, we will put premium on the safety of their employees, and the gaming industry as a whole. While we recognize their huge contributions to nation-building, and their great viability as a funding source in these difficult times, we still have to practice extra precaution in striking a balance between health and economic benefits,” Domingo explained.
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