POGO Stuck: Philippines iGaming Market is Vortexing

Lee R. - November 3, 2020

Has so many economic and geo-political forces ever conspired to sink a jurisdiction.

There is a hole in the bucket in the Philippines.

PAGCOR Warns of Losses

Online gaming overseer Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp PAGCOR reports increasing market destabilisation.

POGOS Not Returning

First off, only 33 POGOs (licensed iGaming operators in the Philippines) have been given permission to resume operations post-Covid 19, from a total of 55 prior to the pandemic.

A leading Philippines real estate firm has further indicated that iGaming companies are disappearing in Manila.

Dire Predictions

With over 25 years of business expertise, Leechiu Property Consultants CEO David Leechiu forecasted to a local media webinar a 17-percent vacancy rate in Manila’s office market by the end of the years as a result of online gaming market departures.

This loss in offices equates to 300,000 square meters of physical space, with POGOs making up 1.7 million square metres of space.

Set to Continue

The losses are just beginning, according to Leechiu—as he predicts the rise to an additional 20 to 30 percent in 2021.

Inhospitable Taxation

Leechiu says iGaming companies in the Philippines are being driven out the increasing cost of doing business, led by a new 5% tax the Philippines government has imposed as Covid recovery solution.

Add to this the requirement that all iGaming companies need to pay back taxes and fees before reopening, and many companies will continue opting out completely.

China Workforce Conflict

On top of this, the predominantly Chinese workforce has come under derision from locals, which is driving many workers back home and depleting the workforce needed to support iGaming operations.

Dwindling Workforce

The population trend was seconded by transport authority Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

SBMA chair Wilma Eisma told the Philippine National News Agency that the number of Chinese workers in POGO firms dropped from 1,500 to less than 500 in less than four months—with only the Great Empire Gaming and Amusement Corp. returning its 368 workers to the Philippines back in June after losing PHP106 million.

Visa Subversion?

More data showing youths in China applying for Retiree Visas at the Department of Tourism is raising concerns about continuing POGO attempts to subvert immigration and visa requirements.


All these ripplings of discontent ensure Philippine government recovery goals will not be met, with no solution in sight. 

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