POGOs Meet Demand
Online gambling remains illegal in communist China, but that is not preventing the country’s citizens from indulging their appetite for internet gaming.
Significantly, the effects of the Chinese population’s desire to gamble online are being felt in the Philippines, especially in the capital city, Manila.
There, companies known as Philippine Online Gambling Operations (POGOs) are meeting this Chinese demand for online gambling.
Estimates for the number of Chinese people employed in POGOs vary from 100,000 to 250,000, making it clear that there are significant numbers of Chinese nationals moving to the Philippines to work in this burgeoning sector.
Some of these people provide IT support or translation services, while others work more directly in the gambling industry.
Interestingly, an actual, accurate measure of just how many Chinese workers are now employed in Manila by POGOs is impossible to obtain.
Philippines Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello recently informed a Senate inquiry that only 25,000 official work permits had been issued to Chinese workers.
There is obviously a massive disparity between the official figures and the estimates made about the number of Chinese workers in POGOs.
Manila Real Estate Gains
The real winners in this situation could be said to be real-estate owners in Manila.
POGO companies pay for the accommodation of their employees and will usually pay whatever value of rent is asked. This has driven up rent levels more generally, something that many locals resent.
A report from property firm Santos Knight Frank found that rental rates for residential properties in Manila’s Bay Area had risen by 62.2 percent during the second quarter of 2018.
This is a significantly higher rise than for the same period in 2017 and is a much faster rise than has occurred in other business districts in the city.
It is uncertain what this massive influx of Chinese population and cash will mean for Manila and the Philippines in the long term.
In the short term, though, some people are making significant profits.
Pagcor collected around $1.6 billion for various fees from POGOs in 2017. That figure is expected to rise in 2018. Those who object on moral grounds to the gambling industry’s grip on contemporary Manila will find it hard to argue with that kind of financial muscle.