MANILA — Shutting down Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) is likely to have a significant impact on the country's office space market, a property consulting veteran said on Thursday.
POGOs occupy around 1.1 million square meters of office space today, down from the 1.7 million sqm during its peak at the end of 2019, said Leechiu Property Consultants CEO David Leechiu.
"Shutting it down now and making all these space available at the same time, when there’s about 3 millions square meters of office space vacant around the country, is going to have a meaningful impact to say the least," Leechiu told ANC.
"All this discussion on whether to shut down the POGO sector is not just making a lot of people concerned, and not just limited to real estate," he said.
Leechiu said the industry also occupies millions of square meters in residential spaces.
Some lawmakers and economic managers have proposed the discontinuation of offshore gaming as crimes allegedly linked to Chinese POGO workers rise.
Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier said he was in favor of shutting down POGOs as social costs outweigh its dwindling revenues.
Diokno said the total POGO revenue in 2021 declined to P3.9 billion from its peak of P7.2 billion in 2020.
Nevertheless, Leechiu said there has been a significant progress in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) space, which is good for the office space market.
Prior to POGOs, BPOs were among the biggest driver of office space demand in the country.