Online gambling contributes P551 billion to Philippine economy yearly

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) contribute some P551 billion to the Philippine economy yearly, overtaking traditional information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) companies, according to estimates of real estate services firm Leechiu Property Consultants. 

Salaries from POGOs are estimated to be at P504 billion.

POGO workers' housing rental is pegged at around P36 billion, while annual office rental is at P11 billion.

Meanwhile, the estimated year-to-date fit-out cost of POGOs, which includes furniture, fixtures, and technology, is about P88 billion.

The figures overtake those of the IT-BPM sector, which is estimated to contribute P466 billion every year. (READ: EXPLAINER: How online casinos hit the jackpot in the Philippines)

IT-BPM estimated yearly salaries is at P400 billion, while annual office rental is at P66 billion.

Leechiu Property Consultants estimated that there are around 470,000 POGO workers in the country, much higher than the government estimate of around 150,000. The figure includes mostly Chinese workers. (READ: How China's online gambling addiction is reshaping Manila)

The latest estimates come as China urged the Philippine government to stop POGOs from operating in the country, even linking the industry to crimes like money laundering and kidnapping. (READ: A Chinese online gambling worker's plight in Manila)

Office space

The consultancy firm also noted that POGOs have overtaken IT-BPM companies for the first time as the country's top demand driver for office space in the 3rd quarter of 2019.

Of the total Philippine office takeup of 1 million square meters (sqm), POGOs accounted for 386,000 sqm. or 34% year-to-date, while the IT-BPM sector recorded 355,000 sqm.

In Metro Manila, POGO takeup was at 375,000 sqm., soaring by 109% from the same period last year.

IT-BPM office demand stood at 335,000 sqm, while other firms totaled 398,000 sqm.

Since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office, offshore gaming has been the fastest growing industry in the Philippine office market, Leechiu noted.

Alabang and Quezon City are the top destinations of POGOs, accounting for 1 million sqm or 71% of the total Philippine POGO footprint.

Outside Metro Manila, POGOs have also expanded to Clark, Cavite, Laguna, and Cebu. 

Chart by Leechiu Property Consultants

"The ongoing infrastructure developments under the country's Build, Build, Build program turned Clark into the most favorable district outside Metro Manila, not only for IT-BPM but also for POGOs," Leechiu said.

"In south of Manila, Cavite also benefited from this rising industry given its geographical proximity and improved accessibility," it added. – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.

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