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POGOs now occupy over a million square meters of office space in Metro Manila

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
POGOs now occupy over a million square meters of office space in Metro Manila
A Colliers International Philippines report said that POGOs were outpacing other office demand drivers in Metro Manila despite their remaining "diversified."
AFP / Marcus Erricson, File

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine online gambling operations or POGOs now occupy some one million square meters of office space in Metro Manila, according to a report by property consulting firm Colliers International Philippines published Thursday.

The report said that POGOs were outpacing other office demand drivers in Metro Manila despite their remaining "diversified."

"For the first nine months of 2019, offshore gaming accounted for 37% of all closed deals, representing about 442,000 sq metres (4.7 million sq feet) of space," wrote Joey Roi Bondoc, senior research manager at Colliers, in the report. 

"POGOs now occupy about 10% of total leasable office space in Metro Manila or 1.14 million sq metres (12.3 million sq feet)."

In earlier market intelligence reports, Colliers admitted that the online operations were a "major driver" of the property sector in the Philippines. 

As early as September 2019, Colliers predicted that POGOs would occupy some one million sq meters of office space by the year's end after key hubs including Clark, Cavite and Laguna began to accommodate gaming operations as well. 

Colliers in September also observed that pre-selling and completed condominium units rose, due in part to the increase of POGO firms in Metro Manila. The industry, Bondoc said, had begun to contribute to the office, residential and retail facets of the property sector. 

President Rodrigo Duterte himself has expressed his willingness to allow the operations to continue despite Beijing's appeals for the chief executive to ban them. 

“I decide we need it. Many will lose livelihood. It’s government-controlled,” he was quoted as saying, although he remained adamant that these hubs still pay the appropriate taxes.

"We remain optimistic that POGOs will continue to lead office space take-up over the next two to three years especially with continued efforts from lawmakers to legitimize their operations," Bondoc also said in the report. 

The report coincides with the administration's revitalized campaign against erring POGO employees. The Department of Finance disclosed on Wednesday that these efforts have so far afforded the government $25 million (about P1.2 billion) in additional revenues. 

Just recently, the National Bureau of Investigation in a sting operation uncovered a prostitution ring catering exclusively to POGO workers, leading to the arrest of a Chinese POGO operator and two Chinese nationals. 

PHILIPPINE OFFSHORE GAMING OPERATION

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