New Philippine Tax Adds More Pain to Pandemic-Hit Online Casinos

·1 min read
Roulette game being played on smartphone. (Photo: Getty Images)
Roulette game being played on smartphone. (Photo: Getty Images)

By Andreo Calonzo

China-centric online casinos in the Philippines will incur more losses and more are expected to shut after a pandemic relief law imposed a new tax on the industry, a gaming authority official said.

The law, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this month, imposes a 5% franchise tax on offshore gaming operators’ gross bets. That’s a change from the current franchise tax imposed on gross gaming revenue, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. Assistant Vice President Jose Tria said.

“This new formula will surely result in serious losses for Philippine offshore gaming operators,” Tria said in a mobile-phone message. “We expect them to close shop.”

Online casinos are already reeling from months of shutdown amid the pandemic-induced lockdown, with 40% of operators still closed, based on a list from the gaming authority. Demand for office spaces could take a “short-lived” hit as offshore gaming operators leave, the Philippine central bank said.

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.