Philippines shuts down 175 offshore gambling firms, deports 40,000 Chinese workers


MANILA — The Philippines will shut down 175 offshore gambling companies and deport about 40,000 Chinese workers, a Justice Ministry official said Monday.

The sector emerged in the Philippines in 2016 and has grown exponentially as operators take advantage of the country’s liberal gaming laws to target Chinese customers where gambling is prohibited.

Philippine offshore gambling operators (POGOs) employed more than 300,000 Chinese workers in their heyday, but the pandemic and tax increases have forced many to choose to do business elsewhere. I was forced.

“The crackdown was sparked by reports of murders, kidnappings and other crimes by Chinese against fellow Chinese,” Justice Department spokesman Jose Dominic Cravano said.

The POGOs targeted for closure have licenses that have expired or been revoked for violations such as nonpayment of government fees, Cravano said, adding that the deportation of Chinese workers will begin next month. rice field.

According to the Ministry of Finance, the government generated P7.2 billion ($122.21 million) in 2020 and P3.9 billion last year from POGO fees alone. Economists estimate that a significant amount is spent on taxes, labor costs, and office rents.

The Chinese embassy in Manila said in a statement that Beijing supports deportation and cracking down on POGO-related crimes.

Philippine regulators recently said there were between 60 and 30 licensed POGO firms pre-pandemic, but did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Real estate consultancy Leechiu Property Consultants estimates that 1.05 million square meters (259 acres) of office space will be vacant if it exits the POGO industry entirely. Abandoned annual rent.

According to Leechiu data, the sector employs 201,000 Chinese and 111,000 Filipinos, and POGOs are estimated to bring P190 billion ($3.22 billion) to the economy each year. , which has benefited the real estate and retail sectors.

($1 = 59.01 Philippine Peso)