The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) decided to promote online gambling in the country by granting Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (Pogos) an iGaming license towards the end of 2016.
As a result, the Philippines now has 57 Pogos. Along with Macau, it is one of the few Asian jurisdictions that have legalized online gambling. Last year, the Philippines online gambling industry generated $84 million in revenue, which was a 14 percent increase from 2016.
Strong Demand From Online Gamblers In China
The large number of Pogos and the sharp rise in online gambling revenue is because of increasing demand for online gambling services from Chinese players. Land based foreign casino operators have always targeted the lucrative Chinese market where gambling is banned. Beijing has taken a strict stance towards any advertising or promotional activities that attempt to specifically lure Chinese gamblers to foreign casinos.
It now appears that Pogos have followed a similar strategy as they have looked to attract Chinese online gamblers via their iGaming offering. This can be clearly seen from the fact that most of the Pogos are hiring Chinese workers in large numbers.
Pogos Hiring Large Number Of Chinese Workers
Young jobseekers from China are attracted towards the idea of working in the Philippines as it includes a work visa and monthly wages of up to $1,458 during the first year of work along with a raise in the first, second, and third years. The recruiters are least bothered about education and work experience. They provide the employees free accommodation, an annual leave of 15 days with return flight tickets, and five meals per day. The employees don’t even have to know English.
Mostly, Chinese nationals are hired as live dealers, but some are asked to find Chinese players on Chinese social networking sites. Some are hired as customer support agents to help Chinese online players with questions, doubts and issues.
Oriental Game which is a licensed iGaming operator in the Philippines is one such example. The company has its headquarters in Makati’s Ecoplaza Building. The company had 200 – 300 workers four years back, but now it has 600 employees and 70 percent of them are from the Philippines. Jeffrey Suck, the digital marketing supervisor of Oriental Game, said that the company is chiefly targeting China, which is why it has published only Chinese brochures. The company gets half its business from mainland China and the rest from Vietnam, Taiwan, Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines.
Locals Not Happy With Influx Of Chinese Workers
While Pogos are happy with the interest they are getting from the Chinese market, the locals do not share the same enthusiasm because they feel that Chinese workers are stealing their jobs. A senate inquiry was launched last month to find out whether the steep rise in property prices was because of an influx of Chinese workers.
Officials were informed that Chinese workers are not required to obtain an alien employment permit (AEP) to get work in the Philippines. Usually, they arrive on tourist visas and then apply for special work permits which makes it easy for them to enter the Philippines and then seek employment.
Monique Cornelio Pronove, the CEO of Pronove Tai, a property consultancy based in Manila, has pointed out that 40 percent of the office space in Makati which is the business hub in Manila is occupied by gambling companies. The figures in Laguna, Cebu, and Cavite are 38 percent, 48 percent and 21 percent respectively.
According to Pronove, Pogos are the “unsung heroes” of the industry as they have met the demand from business process management and information technology sectors. They are willing to pay any amount as rent for office space.
China Will Struggle To Stop Online Gambling
Strongbond Products Philippines MD Lester Yupingkun said that the gross revenue of his company increased by 33 percent because of online gambling projects. Yupingkun is certain that the online gambling industry will grow because of the strong demand in China for online gambling sites. The only way to stop the growth of this industry is for the government of China to legalize online gambling in China.
China and the Philippines are looking to form stronger ties. However, the Philippines government may not continue to be so tolerant towards Chinese workers if they continue to use illegal means to obtain work permits. Voters are keeping an eye on how the Philippines administration will continue to strengthen the relationships between China and Philippines while simultaneously convince Filipinos that the priority in the local job market will be given to them.

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