DOF unit proposes 1,400% increase in casino entrance fee

Rappler.com
DOF unit proposes 1,400% increase in casino entrance fee
The National Tax Research Center says this increase would discourage low-income earners from gambling and would also lead to higher revenue collection for infrastructure projects

MANILA, Philippines – The government’s tax research unit proposed increasing  entrance fees in Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor)-licensed or -operated casinos to P1,500, from the current P100, in a bid to discourage low-income earners from gambling.

A study released by the National Tax Research Center (NTRC), titled the “Proposed Imposition of Casino Entrance Fee,” also said that the proposed 1,400% hike in casino entrance fee would help raise funds for infrastructure projects under the ambitious Build, Build, Build program.

The tax research unit of the Department of Finance (DOF) said it studied the feasibility of imposing a much higher entrance fee in casinos because of the industry’s high income potential and the need to strengthen gambling regulations in the country. (READ: FAST FACTS: What you need to know about the Philippine casino industry)

The NTRC noted in its study that under Executive Order (EO) No. 48, Pagcor may collect a qualifying fee through coupons issued to players. This fee, however, “may be waived as is being done in Waterfront Airport Hotel and Casino Mactan as well as those located in Entertainment City.”

As stated in EO 48, the qualifying fee as determined by the DOF should be at least P100 per player.

But “in fact, under Regulation 15 of the Casino Regulatory Manual for Entertainment City, Clark, and Fiesta Casino licensees, there is no amount of qualifying fee indicated,” the NTRC said.

“It is likewise noted that as presently worded under EO 48 the collection of the qualifying fee may be viewed as optional,” it added. (READ: Gambling addiction: How the Philippines prevents, handles ‘problem gamers’)

The NTRC also said the collection declined to P14.44 million in 2016, from 2005’s P20.2 million.

In the 17th Congress, two bills have been filed in the House of Representatives, seeking the collection of entrance fees from Filipinos who patronize casinos.

But in view of EO 48, the center said there is no need for a bill that would mandate Pagcor to collect a casino entrance fee.

“Perhaps what can be done is to make the collection of qualifying fee compulsory for players in all casinos operating in the Philippines, whether Pagcor-operated casinos or licensed casinos,” the NTRC said.

According to the center, the P100 casino entrance fee has not been adjusted for more than two decades now.

“If indexed to inflation, the amount would be around P320 but may be rounded off to P500 or to as high as P1,500, similar to what Quezon City is proposing,” it said. – Rappler.com

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