Makati imposes moratorium on new POGO licenses

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    THE city government of Makati will stop issuing new business licenses and permits to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) service providers due to rising criminality and prostitution in the metropolitan.

    Makati City hall will likewise cease from issuing Letters of No Objection (LONO) to these businesses, Makati Mayor Abby Binay announced over the weekend.

    “We would no longer accept new applications for POGO service providers and crack down hard against illegal activities that are catering to POGOs and their employees within Makati,” Binay said in a statement.

    The move, she said, is aligned with the thrust of President Rodrigo Duterte and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez against illegal activities related to POGO service providers.

    Aside from rising criminality and prostitution in the city, Binay cited the likelihood of “overheating” in the residential and commercial leasing market as one of the reasons for the indefinite moratorium.

    The mayor said the influx of thousands of foreign workers employed by POGOs has boosted the demand for housing and work stations in the city, a situation which she said has spiked property rates in Makati.

    But this, she warned, puts the local property sector at risk of overheating where its growth becomes unsustainable.

    On top of these, Binay said that with the high demand for residential units for POGO employees, illegal apartment rentals have also sprouted in Makati.

    Almost all POGOs in the city are PAGCOR-licensed and registered with the Business Permits and Licensing Office (BPLO). The city government earns more than P200 million per year in local business taxes from these establishments.

    Makati said that there are around 300 POGO service providers in the city and provide services like live e-casino video streaming, call center, marketing and other technical support to POGOs.

    Binay promised the city government will strive hard to provide a safe environment for these businesses.

    In recent months, the city government has reported numerous illegal activities involving POGO employees, who are mostly Chinese.

    Makati City has already closed four illegal POGO service providers, two prostitution dens, an unsanitary restaurant and a catering company.

    Police have also seized P2.5 billion worth of illegal drugs from an apartment rented by a Chinese national.