POGO GROWTH EXPECTED TO CONTINUE, DRIVE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY
BY Derek Tonin
Even if the faucet’s been turned off, the sink is still overflowing. That’s what one real-estate consultant says about the Philippine Offshore Gambling Operators (POGOs), which she expects to continue driving office space demand in the bustling business district of Makati.
“Despite limited office supply next year accepting POGOs, the offshore gaming sector is still expected to drive office demand but on a slower phase compared to 2019,” said Monique Cornelio-Pronove, chief executive officer of Pronove Tai International Property Consultants in an interview with Business World.
In the interview, Cornelio-Pronove listed all the factors that could potentially slow down the growth of the POGO industry. What’s telling is that a temporary restriction on new licenses didn’t rank top of the list. “The main factor of POGOs growth in the office market will always be grounded in the ‘office supply.’ POGO sector is expected to slow down next year because of the limited available supply in the Bay Area,” she said, referring to the area around Entertainment City.
She did note however that many other factors could affect the size of the industry, including Chinese government influence, potentially higher tax rates, and scrutiny over POGO related criminality.
Forecasting how much office space would be available in 2020, she noted 49 new office buildings will be completed within the year, totaling for 1.14 million square meters. While not all of that will go to POGOs, it will be the driving industry, with information technology and business process management coming in second.
This continuing growth has been a huge topic within government. The Philippines Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development has noted that investigating all of the issues surrounding POGOs will be one of their top priorities in 2020. Meanwhile, House Representative Joey Salceda has been pushing hard to raise taxes on the industry, a touchy issue considering so many operators are simply not trying to operate legally, or already delinquent on their tax bills.