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Subic Bay set to lose all four POGOs as Philippines online gaming crunch continues

A week after losing one its four POGO operators due to financial pressures brought about by COVID-19, the coastal Philippines freeport zone of Subic Bay is set to farewell the remaining three.

According to the Philippines Inquirer, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chair Wilma Eisma confirmed Friday that “the owners of the remaining POGOs have said that they are also in the process of winding down.”

It was Eisma who originally revealed last month the departure of almost 1,000 of Subic Bay’s 1,500 Chinese workers, primarily as a result of licensed operator Great Empire Gaming and Amusement Corporation closing its doors on losses of around Php100 million (US$2.1 million).

“This is because the POGO operators cannot do business after the declaration of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine last March, and thus were losing money,” she said at the time.

On Friday, Eisma said the nation’s online gaming industry was a reflection of a weakened global economy rather than a Philippines specific concern.

“It’s saddening in a way, because the POGO closure is a signal that the economy is not yet there,” she said, “and I would think [the] economy not just in the Philippines but also worldwide because the POGO clients are not in the Philippines, but outside of it.”

There are currently 55 licensed POGOs in the Philippines, down from 60 at the start of 2020, while 33 POGOs, 111 service providers and four Special Class BPOs (business process outsourcing) have been approved to resume operations since a Luzon-wide lockdown was eased in May.

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