Philippines tax text games
By Paul
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) is set to slap a 20% tax on the gross profits of the operators of “text games” that involve betting.

Efraim Genuino, Pagcor chairman and chief executive officer, said the agency has entered into a memorandum of agreement with various government agencies last Thursday to jointly regulate text-based games and sales promotions.

Besides Pagcor, other government agencies that signed the MOA include the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.

Genuino said the MOA gives Pagcor the mandate to regulate and tax the text game operators. He added that the signing of the agreement would result to transparency and better disclosure, as the operators would have to declare their gross profits from the text games as well as the mechanics of the games.

Trade Secretary Manuel Roxas II told reporters that operators of sales promotions via the text messaging service are required to give full information of the rules and regulations, limitations, other relevant points, and most especially the costs that would be incurred by the consumers upon joining the games or promotions.

“We want to protect consumers from those who tend to abuse technological advances by imposing exorbitant charges,” he added.

Under the agreement, the DTI would review all applications and mechanics of text-based sales promotions; Pagcor would approve text-based games or sales promotions that have wagering schemes such as chance and prize money; MTRCB would be tasked to ban the advertisements of text-based sales promotions and games that carry gambling or wagering elements as determined by Pagcor; and NTC would direct major cellular phone operators to stop the transmission of text-based games and sales promotions.

NTC Commissioner Armi Borje said that about 100 million to 110 million text messages are being sent everyday in the Philippines – fast becoming known as the “texting capital” of the world.

She explained, however, that NTC has no data about the breakdown of regular text messages and text games. Text games cost 10-to 25 times as much as regular texts in the Philippines.

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