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POGO operators plan to hire more Filipinos

Philippine offshore gaming operators plan to form an organization to teach Filipinos how to speak Chinese Mandarin so they can be employed in the online gaming industry, a Chinese executive said over the weekend.

Kevin Wong, general manager of Oriental Group, the holding firm that owns Oriental Game Ltd., said during an interview at the sidelines of the three-day Philippine-Asian Gaming Expo at SMX Convention Center in Pasay City that there was a plan to form an association. He did not provide a timeframe.

Observers earlier expressed apprehension over the influx of Chinese nationals working in the so-called POGOs, saying they were getting the jobs that should be made available to Filipinos. 

Operators said the language barrier was a big issue in this  business. Initial estimates showed that on the average, Filipinos accounted for just 20 percent of workers in a POGO company.

“For us, we want to police our own... We try to increase the number of Pinoys. Typically, it should be 60-40, or 60 percent foreign, 40 percent local,” Wong said in an interview. 

“We are trying to find ways on how to increase the number of Pinoys in POGO operations,” he said, adding that Filipino programmers are at par with global standards.

Wong served as the chairman of the gaming exposition that concluded on Sunday.  The expo brought to Manila around 30,000 gaming entrepreneurs and 200 exhibitors from 15 countries. Julito G. Rada

Wong said around 250 companies were legally operating in the Philippines while 30 to 50 were unregistered and conducting their businesses illegally and usually doing their operations in their residences.

He said POGO companies would follow the government’s efforts to check on foreign workers and tax them according to law.  “We always follow. If this is the regulation, then we will follow. We have always been very ‘legal.’ So if that’s the direction to be legal, then we will go that way.”

Wong’s Oriental Game Ltd. has two gaming hubs in Clark, Pampanga and Kawit, Cavite. The Kawit hub is situated at the Island Cove alongside Cavite Expressway. Island Cove is owned by the Remulla family.

Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. chairman and chief executive Andrea Domingo expressed optimism that the government would not impose higher taxes on offshore gaming operators in the country to keep them in the country.

Domingo said POGOs should still make a profit even when they were paying taxes to the government.

“Not really to overtax... but just what is rightfully... and that they could still make a profit enough for them to stay here. Because there’s a lot of competition from other countries like in Cambodia,” she said.

Domingo said in Cambodia, an operator just needed to pay $1,000 to start an offshore gaming business, the same way in Vietnam. Laos was also thinking of opening up its gaming industry, she said.

Domingo said some operators already expressed apprehension on what might happen in the future. “They were afraid,” she said. 

Domingo said the National Bureau of Investigation and Philippine National Police already closed down “over 170 illegal operations.”

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III earlier said the Bureau of Internal Revenue would start collecting taxes from foreign workers this month. The government is eyeing at least P24 billion in income taxes annually from foreign workers employed in the offshore gaming operations.

Topics: Philippine offshore gaming operators , POGO , online gaming industry
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