To raise more revenues for the government’s Covid-19 response, the chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means is proposing a fiscal regime for online betting on (cockfight) and other local betting activities.Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda said on Wednesday his House Bill 7919 is expected to provide the government an intial P1 billion in revenues. HB 7919 proposes to impose a tax regime on “Offsite Betting Activities on Locally Licensed Games.”Salceda said the proposal provides more oversight, transparency and regulation for electronic and other legally-operated electronic betting activities while clarifying the national government’s share of their revenues.“The operations are already legal, by virtue of local ordinances, but the electronic aspect of it is a legal gray area. Because of the ambiguity, we are unable to levy national taxes on these activities, or look into their operations,” Salceda said. “My bill addresses that concern.”The bill excludes “games and activities specifically authorized by law to be performed by the government gaming authorities, such as the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) and the Philippine Charity and Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).”“This regime will ensure that the government will still be able to collect taxes on activities where there is ambiguity as to regulatory purview,” Salceda said.Under the bill, the tax shall be 5 percent of gross revenues derived from offsite betting activities on locally-licensed games and shall not be in lieu of taxes required by local government units (LGUs) and regulatory fees and charges imposed by state agencies. This is consistent with the bill’s intention not to overstep the authority of LGUs.To establish transparency and accountability in these activities, the bill also seeks to empower the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to “to accredit and inspect ‘totalizators’ and other gambling devices used in the collection, consolidation and recording of wagers made in offsite betting activities on locally licensed games.” This will allow the BIR to verify tax assessments.Once enacted, the bill will also require gaming operators of the regulated activities under the bill to specify “offsite betting activities on locally-licensed games” in disclosures and documentations required by the BIR and other regulatory government agencies and instrumentalities. This requirement will help ensure that the government can monitor the activities of such operators.“This measure is consistent with my view that all gambling activities that the law allows should be highly beneficial to the government’s fiscal position,” Salceda said. “Otherwise, what is the point of allowing them?”“The local government will have full authority to license the games under their jurisdiction, and they will be able to impose whatever taxes they want to. But the national government will also be imposing these taxes, for the use of the airwaves which is national property,” he added.The lawmaker said the added regulatory oversight requirements will help the government rein in these activities whenever necessary.“Without a national government share and without national government regulations, it’s a free-for-all at the local level. That’s never good when you’re talking about gaming, an activity with valid public concerns.” Salceda said.The regulations will also help the government identify which firms to regulate better, he added.