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Megaworld sees offshore gaming operators taking up slack in office space demand

Megaworld Corp. is bullish about the prospects of offshore gaming operators driving office space demand in the Philippines amid expectations of a decline in leasing from business process outsourcing (BPO) companies.

The property developer sees a slower influx of BPO players coming in, even if new tenants make up 40 percent of its lease clients.

Taking into consideration the sentiment in the US to bring American jobs back on US soil, the company expects the number of new BPO players may even go lower.

"But POGO (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators) came into the picture. So that took up the vacuum that was left behind by new players," Megaworld senior vice president Jericho Go told reporters in a briefing in Quezon City on Tuesday.

Offshore gaming operators now occupy around 60,000 to 80,000 square meters of office space in the country since December, Go noted.

"We have three to five [POGO] companies ... We have in Newport, the Fort, and in Cebu. Their preferred area is ideally a CBD (Central Business District)," he said.

Leechiu Property Consultants (LPC) earlier said the demand for office space by online gaming firms will rise by 50 percent this year, almost on a par with the BPO sector.

"In effect, what we are saying is we barely scratched the surface," Go said.

"There are roughly about 45 to 50 [POGO] licenses that have been approved by the government. These licensees occupy 10,000 square meters of space," he said.

In September 2016, PAGCOR introduced POGO to offset foregone revenues from e-bingo and e-games.

Offshore gaming firms are in a "big rush" to get office space in the Philippines "because they want to capture market share early," Go said.

The expansion in the gaming industry catering to an offshore market will benefit domestic employment.

"Our [POGO] tenants are essentially BPOs ... They hired a lot of employees because they also do web development and technical support," Go noted. — VDS, GMA News