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Gaming Capital? POGOs & Transformation of Manila & PH

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Gaming Capital? POGO's & the Transformation of Manila & PH

Gambling, & Mainland Tourism is transforming Greater Manila & the Philippines

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The numbers and the impact is staggering

The 5 Best Metro Manila Casinos - TripAdvisor

    Top Metro Manila Casinos: See reviews and photos of casinos & gambling attractions in Metro Manila, Philippines on TripAdvisor.

    ===

    The Property market has been a major beneficiary - as workers hired for online casinos serving China, have turned a possible Bust to a Boom

    100,000 Chinese Move to Manila And Trigger Property Surge

    On Fri, May 4, 2018

    By Bloomberg News

    In Manila’s main financial district and its fringes, signs of the new inhabitants are everywhere: the restaurants serving steaming Chinese hotpots and dumplings, the Mandarin broadcasts at the Mall of Asia, and the soaring property prices.

    An estimated 100,000 migrants, mostly Chinese, have flooded into pockets of the Philippines capital since September 2016, and the deluge is rippling through the city’s real estate market in ways that are unique among the world’s urban centers. While Chinese investors have been snapping up big swathes of high-end housing in Hong Kong, London and New York for years to move their money offshore, this new rush is motivated by something different: Manila’s booming gaming industry.

    More than 50 offshore gambling companies that cater to overseas Chinese punters have received permits to operate in the city since President Rodrigo Duterte’s government began awarding licenses 19 months ago. While bets are placed remotely, the operators need Chinese speakers in Manila to handle everything from marketing and customer queries to payment processing for overseas clients.

    The resulting migration, while only a fraction of the metropolitan area’s 12.9 million population, is propelling home prices to record levels in neighborhoods favored by Chinese workers. It’s reinvigorating Manila’s commercial property market as owners convert offices and shops into gaming centers with card tables and webcams. And it’s boosting the bottom lines of local developers including Ayala Land Inc. and SM Prime Holdings Inc.

    While no official numbers are publicly available showing the number of Chinese arrivals in Manila, people familiar with the matter said that offshore gaming operators in the Philippines employ about 200,000 workers, predominantly Chinese, and more than half of them have arrived in the capital region since late 2016. The Bureau of Immigration said it couldn’t immediately provide the data.

    The influx promises to boost the nation’s economy and is helping to strengthen ties with China – a priority for Duterte. Yet it leaves the property market vulnerable in the event of an abrupt shift in online gaming or immigration policies from either country.

    The perils of relying too heavily on Chinese buyers became painfully obvious last year in the Malaysian enclave of Johor Bahru, which has been grappling with a glut of vacant homes after China imposed controls on investments in overseas property and demand abruptly dried up.

    > https://macaudailytimes.com.mo/files/pdf2018/3041-2018-05-07.pdf

    AREAS the benefited from Chinese buying and mainland Chinese tenants include:

     > Manila Bay- : Casino Haven, wanting to become Tourist & Financial Center

    > Binondo ----- : Historical "Chinatown" :

    > San Antonio : "Little China" TechZone area :

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    the big transformation started about five years ago

    Opening of Solaire casino launches Manila's new gambling hub

    Gambling complex is launched today with the opening of port tycoon's US$1.2b Solaire resort

    nb20130318f1a-870x489.jpg

    The Philippines today opens the first casino in a hub designed to emulate the success of Macau.

    Port tycoon Enrique Razon's US$1.2 billion Solaire Manila casino will have a monopoly within Manila's new entertainment and gambling complex until the country's richest man, Henry Sy, opens a venture there next year.

    The billionaires are investing in casinos as the Philippines seeks to copy Macau, where gamblers from mainland China fuelled a 14 per cent revenue surge to a record US$38 billion last year. New resorts could help the Philippines' gaming market expand five-fold to US$10 billion by 2017, its chief regulator estimates.

    The gaming area in Solaire is decorated with mother-of-pearl-covered columns and a floor embedded with coloured glass.

    It is designed to get 45 per cent of its revenue from VIPs, or high-stakes punters, according to Razon's partner Bradley Stone, president at Global Gaming Asset Management.

    Razon holds one of four casino licences the Philippines awarded in 2008 and 2009 for the entertainment hub that is close to Manila Bay.

    Sy and Melco Crown Entertainment are scheduled to jointly open a casino resort there in July next year.

    A venture of Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada and a fourth casino in the Manila complex by Philippine billionaire Andrew Tan and Genting Hong Kong are expected to open between 2015 and 2016.

    Razon has so far spent US$750 million to build Solaire's first phase that opens today and he's spending another US$400 million for an expansion that will be completed by the third quarter of next year, Stone said. Manila, only three to four hours away from China, Japan and South Korea, will be an attractive alternative for high rollers in these markets, he added.

    The Philippines is counting on the new casino ventures to boost tourist traffic that lags behind that of Indonesia and Thailand. It's also betting that these investments, set by the government at US$1 billion for each licence holder, will help cut the jobless rate, which is among the highest in Asia.

    Solaire's first phase includes an 18,500 square metre gaming area with 300 tables and 1,200 slot machines, seven restaurants and a five-star hotel. The expansion, already under construction, includes more VIP gaming space, a 1,800-seat theatre for Broadway shows and 60,000 square metres of retail space.

    > http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/article/1191809/opening-solaire-casino-launches-manilas-new-gambling-hub

    / 2 /

    No Chinese high rollers? No problem! | Inquirer Business

      Apr 8, 2015 - Many independent analysts agree: The Philippines is the next big ... edge of Manila Bay, given the ongoing crackdown versus Chinese high-rolling gamblers. ... casino venues used to generate their revenues from high-roller ...

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      China's High Rollers Are Phoning In Big Bets to Manila Casinos ...

      May 3, 2017 -

      • More Chinese now gambling via calls to Philippine casinos
      • 55 arrested in gaming syndicate shows China taking action

      In a VIP room reserved for high-spending gamblers at casino in the Philippine capital, many of the players are nowhere to be seen. They’re not even in the country. 

      / 2 /

      How China’s high rollers are using phone bets to get around nation’s gambling laws

      • Chinese players wagered $27 billion in Philippine casinos in 2016
      • VIP casino rooms take phone bets from China

      Chinese high-rollers are exploiting the laws in the Philippines and modern technology to get around their nation’s gambling prohibition.

      Chinese phone betting Filipino casinos
      Chinese high rollers are circumventing their own nation’s gambling laws by making phone bets at Filipino casinos, it has been reported. Pictures: Thinkstock.

      Placing bets by telephone is illegal in most other gaming centres including Singapore, Macau and Australia but it is legal in the Philippines and many Chinese are taking advantage. The VIP rooms of many Philippine casinos feature ceiling cameras which broadcast the gaming action to China, while casino staff wearing headsets talk to Chinese clients and place bets for them, according to Bloomberg.

      The increasing enthusiasm for phone betting in the Philippines among Chinese high rollers has resulted in dramatic increases in revenue locally and now accounts for up to 85% of gambling business in some casinos. Across the industry, Philippine casinos have reported upturns in VIP revenue equating to 110%, and, at a conservative estimate, it is believed that as much as $27 billion was wagered by Chinese gamblers in 2016.

      Money laundering

      This dramatic surge in VIP betting by proxy has led to concern about the risk of money laundering. A US government report raised the issue in March this year and the Chinese government has also been attempting to crack down on the trade, as it tries to stem the flow of money out of the country.

      > https://www.casinopedia.org/news/china-high-roller-phone-bets-gambling-law

       

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      Social Media is Talking about the spreading impact !

      (from a Viber chat): Casino impacts spreads from Manila hotspots to Alabang

      AF:

      I saw a post about the Condo at Southmall.... 70 units for sale? The top floor of this condo now has an online gaming casino and the place is full of mainland Chinese players renting units there. Accross the street are 2 other casinos, 1 run by PAGCOR and the other by a Chinese trader. With this development, the administrator told me that the rental business is quite brisk.

      BN:

      no wonder the rental rates in Amaia Alabang have gone up

      AF:

      there is 1 big online gaming casino in Festival Mall.

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      Real danger of overinvestment as casino companies flock to Philippines

      Philippines’ blossoming casinos are performing almost too well, reports Reuters, with high levels of interest creating what some are calling an oversupply.

      Published:

      The Asian nation will open state-run land-based casino interests to commercial bidders next year, raising interest from operators already active in the Macau and Singapore markets.

      Nationalization of thriving casino industry

      The Philippines is already home to some privately-owned casino resorts, including the Solaire in Manila Bay, but more than 40 of the country’s gambling facilities are currently owned by the state.

      The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp currently acts in a regulatory capacity as well as operating the state’s casinos, but as of early next year its gaming licenses will be open to commercial bidders. PAGCOR will continue in its role as chief regulator for the gambling industry after the nationalization process is complete.

      Bloomberry Resorts, which owns the Solare, is interested in the license. Chairman Enrique Razon Jr told Reuters confirmed that the company has expressed interest (pending details of sale conditions) and hoped that a presence in Manila would give the brand an edge over foreign investors. However, Razon expects Macau operators to bid for licenses in Manila.

      Growing gambling market attracts investor attention

      The gambling scene in Asia is making significant gains, especially in Macau where records profits were posted in the first half of this year. Plans to legalize gaming in Japan and blossoming revenues in Singapore have boosted the appeal of this Asian market to foreign operators. The Philippines is also seeing gambling gains, with year to date revenues from Morgan Stanley showing a 27% increase for the country’s casinos.

      Concerns of ‘cannibalization’ within gambling market

      Gaming revenues in Asia are growing, and operators all want a slice of the profit for themselves. The fast turnover of a profit makes casino investment one of the hot tickets in 2017, and this planned nationalization of Philippine state casinos creates an ideal opportunity.

      The government wants its Entertainment City project to rival Macau and Las Vegas, attracting visitors from all over the world, and it is keen to pull in big names who can invest well.

      > https://www.casinopedia.org/news/real-danger-of-overinvestment-as-casino-companies-flock-to-philippines
       

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      Gambling Boom has pushed Manila Bay property to skyhigh  levels

      Look at these prices from SMDC

      9N7pmtV.jpg

      Bayshore Properties for Resale from 63 Realty Inc./ 63 Fang
      Example: P17.0 Million / 56 sqm = P 303k per sqm

      Duterte Opens Up The Philippines To Chinese Workers, As Filipinos Seek Jobs Overseas

      Chinese workers are “flooding” the Philippines.

      That’s according to a story published recently in South China Morning Post.  Worse, Duterte’s administration is losing count of how many Chinese workers are in the country legally or illegally, according to the same source.

      . . .

      A total of 3.12 million Chinese citizens entered the Philippines from January 2016 to May 2018, according to the Bureau of Immigration. Within these figures is a number of Chinese workers, which is still unknown. What isn’t unknown is the number of Filipinos seeking jobs overseas, which reached 2.2 million as of 2016.

      That begs the question: Why is the Philippines opening up its labor market to foreign workers when it cannot provide jobs for its own people?

      It is known that the Philippines unemployment rate stands at 5.1% in 2018, well above China’s 3.82%. Meanwhile, China’s GDP growth stands at 6.5%, well ahead of the Philippines 6.1%. That begs another question: Why are Chinese workers heading to the Philippines when there are better opportunities at home?

      . . .

      Chinese contractors have been heading to the Philippines to get a piece of the country’s infrastructure spending boom. “A combination of Philippines President Duterte’s USD180bn ‘Build, Build, Build’ program and the Chinese One Belt, One Road initiative has created one of the largest infrastructure construction booms in Asia,” Eijas Ariffin in a piece in THE ASEAN POST.

      And as is the case in Africa and other Asian countries Chinese contractors are bringing along their own engineers and their own workers.

      Apparently, the pay is better than home.

      Meanwhile, Chinese citizens are snapping up local properties in rich districts. “In Manila’s main financial district and its fringes, signs of the new inhabitants are everywhere: the restaurants serving steaming Chinese hotpots and dumplings, Mandarin broadcasts at the Mall of Asia, and the soaring property prices,” reports Bloomberg.

      Then there are gamblers heading to the Philippines, as the Chinese government cranks down on conspicuous gambling in Macau by its citizens. And as Chinese gamblers come to the Philippines, so do related businesses, like restaurants and entertainment staffed by Chinese workers.

      “An estimated 100,000 migrants, mostly Chinese, have flooded into pockets of the Philippines capital since September 2016, and the deluge is rippling through the city’s real estate market in ways that are unique among the world’s urban centers,” continues the report.“While Chinese investors have been snapping up big swathes of high-end housing in Hong Kong, London and New York for years to move their money offshore, this new rush is motivated by something different: Manila’s booming gaming industry.”

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      Fast Facts on Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators

      • Also known as POGOs
      • Such operations were limited to three provinces north of Manila before Sept. 2016 decision to expand them to the capital region
      • 55 permits for POGOs have been awarded since then
      • 14 of those are engaged in sports betting
      • Revenue from POGOs quintupled to 3.57 billion Philippine pesos ($70 million) in 2017 from a year earlier

      Source: Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp.

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      Developers aren’t betting that boom times will last forever. Ayala Land’s President Bobby Dy said the builder will limit offshore gaming leases to 10 percent of its office portfolio. DoubleDragon plans to cap total exposure to such tenants to 30 percent once all its office towers are completed. The firm requires a one-year deposit from offshore gaming operators and post-dated checks for the duration of the five-year contract.

      Kitt Lapeña, 34, a Makati resident for most of his life, has seen waves of foreign residents come and go before, from Japan and Korea, but never on the scale of the recent Chinese influx. While he welcomes the economic boost, he worries about the motivations of the new arrivals.

      “In a way, it’s good for business,” Lapeña said. “I hope they become an asset to the community and not just out to make money.”

      > https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-03/in-china-s-new-gambling-hot-spot-property-prices-are-on-a-tear?fbclid=IwAR1BhXL8HViVp9DvTnix135LKk9B_YNnQ99H57VKPM2PCgtVT_i6Hg_79dY

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      How China’s online gambling addiction is reshaping Manila

      There's more dim sum and jobs in the metro, but the Chinese have driven up rent and brought in the sins tied to gambling

      AT A GLANCE:

      • Philippine Online Gambling Operations (POGOs) are creating a ripple of economic development, particularly in the property and food sectors
      • Locals are complaining about the high rental rates and rowdiness of some Chinese workers
      • POGO girls required to wear skimpy clothes and the possibility of money laundering worry some industry insiders

      MANILA, Philippines – A Filipina-looking dealer looks intently at the webcam, enticing bettors to place their bets. She does not speak, but smiles with her eyes as another voice in Mandarin speaks for her.

      She sports a revealing, black dress. There are even bunny ears to complete the whole Playboy look.

      Players watch her from the laptop, while flirting with Lady Luck for high returns. In just a single click, cash comes in and out of their virtual wallets.

      Welcome to the world of online gambling – the Chinese are hooked and Philippine shores have opened their arms to fuel their addiction.

      Manila is in a frenzy because of the flowing cash, and the impact on the community is hot for chit-chats.

      Game plan

      Gambling is illegal in China and is heavily opposed by the communist government. Authorities have intensified crackdowns to serve as a stern warning.

      To skirt this obstacle, gambling companies operate outside the mainland.

      “China has so much cash and many want to gamble. But gamblers need to travel abroad or to Macau,” said an expert on the matter who requested anonymity.

      With the emergence of online gambling, the Chinese simply log into a website and they can play the usual casino games like poker, roulette, and slot machines.

      Gaming companies that set up shop here are referred to as Philippine Online Gambling Operations (POGOs).

      LADY LUCK. Online gamblers can choose who their dealers will be. Screengrab from Oriental Game.

      LADY LUCK. Online gamblers can choose who their dealers will be. Screengrab from Oriental Game.

      According to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), they have authorized 57 POGOs to operate in the Philippines. (FAST FACTS: What you need to know about the Philippine casino industry)

      > https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/in-depth/212443-how-china-online-gambling-addiction-reshaping-manila

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      Landlords big winners as Philippines bets on Chinese gaming boom

      Over 100,000 Work permits for Chinese (& others come w/o permits)

      There are only about 120,000 condo units in Greater Manila.  Do the math !

      ... Many Filipino landlords are laying out welcome mats for the surging number of Chinese coming to Manila to work in online gaming companies taking sports and casino bets, undeterred by simmering anti-China sentiment and a common perception that Chinese are taking Filipino jobs.

      “I was afraid at first because I heard so many bad things abut Chinese tenants but I was convinced later on when my friends told me they were doing the same”, said Tessie.

      “It’s benefiting people like me who need to earn”, said the 63-year-old housewife.

      Her home is close to a two-tower office building where five of the nine floors are used by Chinese gaming firms. A Chinese restaurant and Chinese tea shop downstairs do brisk trade.

      ... The influx started in 2016, coinciding with the rise of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who since coming into power has pursued warmer ties with China, and the gaming regulator’s move to license these internet gambling operators.

      The number of Chinese work permit holders nearly quadrupled in two years to 109,222 in 2018, government data showed, making China the biggest source of expatriate workers in the Philippines.

      In comparison, there were 4,477 work permit holders from Japan and 622 from the United States last year.

      The arrival of Philippine offshore gaming operators, better known as POGOs, has become a major boon for the property market just as it was getting crimped by a slowdown in the country’s $24 billion outsourcing sector.

      CHINAPH.jpg

      OFFICE, HOME RENTS SURGE

      Philippine gaming regulators have so far licensed 56 POGOs from 35 in 2016. They have also accredited 204 gaming support providers that market their products and render customer service to players abroad, among other services.

      Reuters requested comment from at least two POGOs whose contact details were available online but they did not respond. Reuters also visited at least one gaming tenant in a building in the main Makati business district but was denied entry.

      POGOs will likely take up 1 million square meters of office space in Manila by year-end, Andaya said, nearly 12 times more than in the last quarter of 2016. ( 1,000,000 sm / 5= 200,000 jobs, could be MORE, if double or triple shifting is happening at the desk space )

      Office rents in the Manila Bay area, which has the highest concentration of POGOs, have risen as much as 150% over the past two years, with some renting up for 1,500 pesos per square meter, Andaya said, comparable to rents in Makati.

      ( How long will it last? )

      > https://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-china-labour/landlords-big-winners-as-philippines-bets-on-chinese-gaming-boom-idUSKCN1TX0NJ

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      > MORE: "may not last longer than Duterte’s six-year term in office"

      Lawmakers are growingly worried that the rising number of Chinese workers could lead to local strife and increase the competition for jobs when 2.29 million Filipinos are unemployed.

      The issue is being compounded by the arrest of hundreds of undocumented Chinese workers in illegal online gambling outfits and construction sites and the discovery by authorities that some of these entities have not been paying correct taxes.

      But Duterte has called for tolerance.

      “The Chinese, let them work here. Let them be. Why? We have 300,000 Filipinos in China. That’s why I can’t just say, leave, or have them deported. What if they make all the 300,000 (Filipinos) leave”, Duterte said in a speech in February.

      Filipino businessman JP Gaspar, who is renting out his family’s four-bedroom home to Chinese nationals for 100,000 pesos a month, said he is aware the country’s embrace of China may not last longer than Duterte’s six-year term in office.

      “In the meantime, I’ll grab the opportunity”, Gaspar said. 

      For a list of approved Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators, click  bit.ly/327dbEv

      > https://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-china-labour/landlords-big-winners-as-philippines-bets-on-chinese-gaming-boom-idUSKCN1TX0NJ

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      gen1-chinese-nationals-working-philippin

      MANILA, Philippines — Chinese nationals working in Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGOs) will be transferred to “self-contained” communities or hubs that will limit their interaction with Filipinos, according to an official of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor).

      In an interview with “The Chiefs” aired on Cignal TV’s One News Tuesday night, Pagcor vice president for offshore gaming Jose Tria said these POGO hubs would address complaints of Filipinos over the reported unruly behavior of some Chinese workers.

      “That is the reason why we came up with these POGO hubs. These will be self-contained communities (so we can limit the) interaction between Filipinos and foreign workers,” Tria said.

      As soon as… the private participation is able to set up these hubs, we will be canceling all their authority to operate outside these hubs. We will put them there so it is easier to monitor,” he added in a mix of English and Filipino.

      The POGO hubs would have safeguards, including the establishment of government offices inside these communities for monitoring, according to Tria.

      . . . "Pagcor chairman and chief executive officer Andrea Domingo had earlier announced that it approved the establishment of two POGO hubs in Clark, Pampanga and Kawit, Cavite, to be operated by offshore gaming firm Oriental Game."

      In the first semester of 2019, Bello said DOLE has issued a total of 51,695 alien employment permits (AEPs). The figure was more than double or 143 percent higher than the number of AEPs issued during the same period last year.

      He added that many of the AEPs were issued to foreign nationals employed in POGOs. More than half or 55 percent of the foreign nationals granted AEPs are Chinese nationals.

      The Chinese nationals, according to Bello, are employed in jobs requiring proficiency in Mandarin. He noted that there are Filipinos who can speak Fookien, but only a few are fluent in Mandarin.

      “Our primary condition in issuing AEPs is that it will not cause disenfranchisement of Filipino workers,” Bello said.

      DOLE’s move

      With Pagcor’s plans to limit operations of POGOs to hubs outside Metro Manila, the DOLE is deploying more labor inspectors to the provinces.

      Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III yesterday reported that the DOLE is hiring more labor inspectors in the coming years and deploying them to areas where most POGOs are operating.

      “We deploy labor inspectors nationwide, but mostly in the National Capital Region, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog and Cagayan Valley,” Bello said during the weekly forum “Kapihan sa Manila Bay.”

      Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/08/08/1941586/pogos-be-moved-out-confined-hubs#xyXR3tc1qH3TK0hu.99

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      Philippines collects P356 million from POGOs, as China condemns gambling

      The Chinese government wants gambling operators punished, but the Philippines wants to get more taxes from them

      MANILA, Philippines – The Chinese government issued a strongly-worded statement that enumerated the many problems it has encountered with online gambling, but this is an industry that has proved to be a good source of revenue for the Philippines.

      From money laundering and extortion to kidnapping and slavery, China made it clear that it is clamping down on the industry.

      "The Chinese side hopes and urges relevant departments of the Philippine government to pay more attention to China position and concerns and take concrete and effective measures to prevent and punish the Philippine casinos, POGOs (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators), and other forms of gambling entities for their illegal employment of Chinese citizens," the Chinese embassy said.

      This was in response to the proposal of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) for a dedicated hub for POGOs.

      However, the Philippine government – a friend of China's – made it clear that gambling is perfectly legal here. In fact, it wants to tax the industry more efficiently.

      On the same day China voiced its concern, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) reported that it has collected an initial P186 million in withholding taxes from POGOs and is getting another P170 million this month in tax payments from these businesses employing foreigners, for a total of P356 million.

      Finance Assistant Secretary Dakila Napao said BIR data showed that of the 48 notices sent to POGOs, 22 have either replied or protested the tax assessments.

      Meanwhile, BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay said that for the initial year of operations of POGO service providers in 2017, the BIR collected only P175 million in taxes.

      POGO service providers remitted over P579 million in taxes in 2018 and voluntarily paid P789 million in the 1st half of 2019. The government said POGOs need to pay over P4 billion in unpaid taxes.

      . . .

      POGOs are regulated by Pagcor, whose gaming revenues soared to P68 billion in 2018.

       
       
       
       

      The real estate industry has also enjoyed Chinese money, as POGOs push prices up. (READ: Online gambling: Good for whose business?)

      It's clear that the Philippines has gained much from online gambling – and even more cash is coming.

       

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      ONLINE GAMBLING

      Good for whose business?

      China absolutely hates gambling, but the Philippines is fueling its citizens' addiction

      • The Chinese government is fighting online gambling, but companies are moving its operations offshore to avoid sanctions.
      • Real estate and other Philippine businesses are booming due to online gambling operations.
      • The Philippines’ regulatory environment is weak, but government agencies are slowly trying to cover the gaping holes.

      MANILA, Philippines – With a business degree from one of the Philippines’ top universities, Jake, not his real name, expected to apply what he learned in college.

      He was hired as a financial analyst by an information technology (IT) firm in Quezon City, but his job was nothing like what he was promised by the hiring manager.

      He was tasked to insert a USB drive or memory stick into a computer and input a code.

       
       
       

      “I had no idea at first what I was doing, but it turns out, I was paying out money for online gambling winners,” Jake said.

      He told Rappler he had no idea about the money flow or whether the funds came from – or were going through – Philippine financial institutions.

      Other than inputing codes, he was also tasked to look for Chinese players to play games online. Either he contacted them directly or looked for players through affiliates who had connections with players in China.

      Players came mostly from China, but there were also Chinese clients from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the United States.

      Jake said the company he was working for had around 200 employees with a fair mix of Filipino and Chinese employees.

      "You do not need to speak Mandarin. Your output can be in English and somebody, either Chinese or Filipino fluent in Mandarin, will translate for you," Jake said.

      Screenshot from an online gambling website

      Screenshot from an online gambling website

      “Our job is marketing or finance and some IT. It was not explicit that it was online gambling, but it was,” he said.

      The company did not provide any hint of gambling. The offices had no roulettes, no cards, no dealers. All the games were streamed abroad.

      The website Jake was working for indicated that its casino dealers were from countries like Russia and Turkey.

      "We have a code, when we say something like ‘aja’ out loud, it means that there are government agents or police about to go in the office and we need to hide everything."

       

      – Jake, a Filipino who worked in an online gambling firm

       

      He said the industry was giving Filipinos opportunities and paid well. On top of their salary, workers enjoyed bonuses of at least P500,000 (US$9,631)* a year.

      "Bonuses are tax-free and I think all workers had P500,000 at minimum. I accidentally saw the salary of some of the Chinese managers and they earned over a million without the bonus," Jake said.

      He said the Chinese workers earned around P60,000 ($1,156) to P70,000 ($1,348) a month. Filipinos earned slightly lower, but definitely much higher than a typical job at call center companies just some floors below their offices.

      . . .

      "I think the pay is high, the Chinese workers earn much higher than the average call center agents," Jake said.

      While cash was good, he admitted that he knew the company he was working for was shady.
      The Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) are regulated by the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), but Jake said his company was not on the list of accredited gaming companies.
      “We have a code, when we say something like ‘aja’ out loud, it means that there are government agents or police about to go in the office and we need to hide everything,” Jake said.

      "I'm sure the bosses have connections with government officials, otherwise the company will not operate and will have higher taxes, which they do not want if they wanted higher bonuses," he added.
      He also said the company’s websites have several backups, in case China’s firewall blocks them. When it does, the backup websites take over.
      Jake left the company after a couple of months because he felt uncomfortable about its questionable and suspicious operations.

      =====

      MAYBE... you need to THINK TWICE if your real estate investment is relying on such shady clients 

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      POGO hubs would protect Chinese workers' rights – Pagcor

      POGO HUBS. Pagcor Chairperson Andrea Domingo says the proposed POGO hubs will protect Chinese workers. Photo by Rambo Talabong/Rappler

      POGO HUBS. Pagcor Chairperson Andrea Domingo says the proposed POGO hubs will protect Chinese workers. Photo by Rambo Talabong/Rappler

       

      MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) Chairperson Andrea Domingo said self-contained hubs for Chinese online gambling workers would serve only to provide their basic needs and not segregate them from the population.

      "When we refer to POGO (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator) hubs as self-contained communities, what we mean is that these hubs will have all the basic needs of the foreign employees of POGO," Domingo said in a text message to reporters on Thursday, August 8.

       
       
       
       

      She said these hubs would have office and residential spaces, food establishments, wellness and recreational facilities, and service shops.

      "They are free to go anywhere they want to without any limitation on their personal rights or liberties," Domingo added. (READ: A Chinese online gambling worker's plight in Manila)

      Domingo also maintained that the hubs would be established for the protection of foreign workers.

      With the Chinese POGO workers living in dedicated hubs, Domingo said they would no longer be exposed to "crimes being committed against them on the streets," and would be assured of better work conditions.

      They will also be given proper visas, as government agencies will set up offices at the hubs.

      Domingo's statement was in response to the Chinese embassy's strongly-worded statement over the proposal. (READ: How China's online gambling addiction is reshaping Manila)

      China said it is gravely concerned over the proposal, as it may infringe on the basic legal rights of its citizens. – Rappler.com

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      No POGO PANIC (yet)

      PROPERTY developers remain optimistic about demand for office space despite China’s crackdown on Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs), citing limited exposure to such tenants.

      Ayala Land, Inc. Commercial Business Group Head Jose Emmanuel H. Jalandoni said POGOs make up less than a tenth of their leasable office portfolio, limiting the company’s vulnerability to this segment.

      “For the office sector, we’re limiting it to a maximum of 10% for our office portfolio. Right now it’s a little below 10%…Since we’re limiting our exposure to 10% it’s more manageable,” Mr. Jalandoni told BusinessWorld on the sidelines of an event last week of its parent Ayala Corp.

      In a separate interview, DoubleDragon Properties Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Edgar J. Sia II said his company is also relatively protected from developments hounding POGOs.

      “DoubleDragon’s leasable space portfolio is diversified enough that it is well-covered overall. The POGO exposure is only about 12% of 2019 total leasable space,” Mr. Sia said in an e-mail, adding that his company requires tenants to pay 12 months rental security deposits up front, on top of post-dated checks covering the entire lease term.

      Mr. Sia, however, admitted that there could be downsides in terms of yields the company will get for its properties.

      “The only downside if the POGO tenants are replaced by BPO and corporate tenants is that, in that case the company expects to no longer get the very high 29% yield on cost but may revert to the normal yield of 14%, which is anyway still more than double the company’s cost of fund which now stands at 6.2%.”

      Concerns about the country’s office sector arose after the Chinese embassy last week asked the Philippines to stop hiring Chinese citizens in casinos and other gaming facilities, citing how a large number of them have been illegally brought into the country since Beijing has been cracking down on cross-border gambling. It also blamed offshore gaming operations in the country for increased crimes and other social problems in China.

      Analysts said this move could hurt the property sector as POGOs have been driving demand for office space in recent years.

      . . .Despite the high demand from POGOs, Ayala Land’s Mr. Jalandoni said the company still expects business process outsourcing firms and traditional offices to boost its businesss.

      “I think reports show that demand for this year and last year was mostly POGOs, but BPO demand is still there and we’re also seeing demand from traditional office so it’s a balanced demand,” Mr. Jalandoni said.

      > MORE: https://www.bworldonline.com/property-firms-bullish-on-demand-despite-pogo-uncertainty/

       
      / 2 /

      ORTIGAS Center and Quezon City are seen to be the next hubs for Philippine Online Gaming Operators (POGOs) as vacancy in the bay area dips below 1% in the second quarter of 2019.

      Joey Roi H. Bondoc, research manager of Colliers International Philippines, said vacancy in areas near Manila Bay is now at 0.61%, which is considered to be low even for an outsourcing company.

      “What more for a POGO that in one go would occupy two, three floors. I think it is but natural for them to move outside of the bay area and look at areas where office space is still available,” he said.

      In its property market report for the second quarter, Colliers noted that demand for offshore gaming companies had reached 274,000 square meters (sq.m.) in the first half. Deals in the second quarter were mostly closed in Alabang, bay area, Quezon City, Ortigas, and Makati central business district (CDB) and its fringes.

      The firm also noted that the new supply in the bay area, Ortigas Center, and Quezon City would be tempered by demand from online gaming operators along with traditional or non-outsourcing firms.

      “Currently, we have 274,000 [sq.m. of supply], so if we estimate another 250,000, easily 150,000 sq.m. could be split between Quezon City and Ortigas Center because that’s where the available space is, so easily pwedeng doon sila mag-locate (they can locate there),” Mr. Bondoc said.

      As for residential units, he said it would be difficult to determine how many units, but he noted that for one firm, an average of 40-50 units are involved in one transaction.

      “They are willing to locate the following day, and they pay in cash,” he said. “That’s how strong the demand is.”

      For the rest of the year, Mr. Bondoc said that the online gaming operators are likely to remain the major driver.

      “For 2019, definitely. In fact we might even breach 500,000 sq.m. for 2019 alone because in 2017 we had only 11,000 sq.m., in 2018 we had 303,000 sq.m. So initially we thought na (that) we might be able to breach 400[,000 sq.m.], but look at the first half transactions, [they’re] already 274,000 [sq.m.],” he noted.

      He also said that buildings, which were not approved by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority because of Administrative Order (AO) No. 18, might now welcome POGO firms.

      For instance, a building in Ortigas that was initially built for non-POGOs but failed to secure accreditation, will now cater to these firms.

      > more: https://www.bworldonline.com/online-gaming-base-expected-in-ortigas-and-qc/

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