THE Philippine offshore gaming operator (Pogo) industry may soon stage a comeback after its growth was spoiled by the Covid-19 pandemic, a property consultant said.

“There is a very early stage of recovery in the Pogo sector now because in Manila there are companies that are operational again. The tax disputes of the government plus the immigration policies that prevented the labor market of the Pogo sector to come back to the Philippines were very controlled but now they are coming back. It is the same in Cebu and the rest of the country,” said David Leechiu, president of Leechiu Property Consultants.

The Pogo industry boomed in the early years of the Duterte administration. Many Pogos, which employ mostly Chinese nationals, closed up operations in the Philippines due to higher taxes and pandemic-related travel restrictions. Pre-pandemic, this industry occupied 1.3 million square meters (sq.m.) in office spaces.

In the last two years, the Pogo industry has vacated about 500,000 sq.m. of office space.

“The Pogo market is restrained for now but I think it is going to improve. Yes, there are still a lot of challenges in the Pogo sector, but they (players) like the Philippines a lot. I think they will find a solution to come back,” the real estate veteran said.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue collected a total of P3.91 billion in taxes from Pogo last year.

Meanwhile, Leechiu said they anticipate a big rebound in the office sector this year as more companies resume operations and employees return to office work.

“There is quite a bit of office space in the market today that tenants are willing to see but we are on a wait and see stance for this excess capacity to be absorbed... but definitely we are on the way back to the pre-Covid level,” he said.