Half of Philippine POGOs Gone

Approximately half of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators, or POGOs, have closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, and are expected to remain closed. The mass shutdown has idled tens of thousands of foreign workers.

Approximately half of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) have permanently closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. The mass shutdown, affecting 30 or so of 60 online casinos, has left as many as 30,000 foreign workers without employment.

According to Andrea Domingo, head of the Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) iGaming revenue could drop to as low as 16 billion pesos (US$330 million) this year from about 30 billion pesos in 2020 due to the collective impact of Covid-19 on retail and virtual casinos.

Revenue from online casinos, which cater mostly to Chinese clients, will likely be less than half the usual earnings of 8 billion to 9 billion pesos, Domingo said. Some online casinos known as Philippine offshore gaming operators or POGOs partially reopened in December.

“Manpower is really a problem. Chinese nationals can’t go to the Philippines, so no one can take bets,” Domingo said. Workers who left for Chinese New Year in 2020 were not able to return because of the lockdown, and there aren’t enough locals to do the job, she said.

Some operators will likely transfer to Vietnam, Myanmar and Malaysia, while bigger online casinos may return to the Philippines once travel restrictions ease and there’s clarity on proposals to tax the industry, Domingo said, according to MSN.com.

“We’re trying to keep afloat,” Domingo said. “We have to open up a little bit so we don’t lose the market altogether.”