Sat, Jul 13, 2019 - Page 10 News List

Philippines planning to set up hubs for online casinos

Bloomberg

Online casino centers are under construction north and south of the Philippine capital to cash in on the booming gaming sector, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp chairperson and CEO Andrea Domingo, the nation’s gaming regulator, said in Manila.

“POGO is legal and is here to stay,” Domingo said, referring to Philippine offshore gaming operators.

The industry employs about 138,000 mostly Chinese workers in online casinos and is poised to surpass call centers as Manila’s top new office space user this year.

Oriental Group, one of the POGO operators licensed by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming, is building hubs in Cavite City in the south and Clark City in the north, Domingo said.

Those operating in hubs are to receive a five-year gaming license against the regular three-year permit given to others, she said.

Oriental is investing 8 billion pesos (US$156.5 million) for the 20 hectare POGO City in Cavite that is expected accommodate 20,000 workers, general manager Kevin Wong said.

The first phase in Clark would be about 10,000 hectares and is expected to host 5,000 employees.

The government has set up tax and labor rules to lure illegal gaming outfits to register, and is to start issuing licenses to POGO workers, Domingo said.

More than 50 POGOs have received permits to operate since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte began awarding licenses in 2016.

The influx of Chinese workers triggered senate hearings last year.

“Given social tensions, we wanted to put everyone in one place,” Wong said on Oriental’s decision to create gaming hubs.

The gaming regulator is to keep its 8 billion peso target for POGO revenue this year, even as Domingo said it has fallen behind after three operators shut for fear of the tax hunt.

“I hope we don’t overtax them so we don’t lose the good” that comes with the POGO boom, Domingo said.

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