The Philippines has been a constant thorn in China through the former’s controversial POGO industry, while Cambodia has received less fanfare because it is largely the same thing.

Over the past few years, the two Southeast Asian countries have been building domestic gambling markets, mainly aimed at mainland Chinese players, which is resentful for the Chinese government.

Of course, gambling is illegal in China, and Chinese President Xi Jinping has filed a petition with the two countries to stem the flow of claims that the Chinese market is fueling allegations of money laundering, kidnapping and violent crime.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has met with Xi Jinping on several occasions on the issue and said that the Philippines is a sovereign country and will do as it pleases.

Given that the declaration is very beneficial to the Philippine government, they have of course remained open and operational. Furthermore, there is evidence that the crimes are not as serious or extensive as China claims.

In other words, Duterte has scored a temporary goal for Beijing by suspending permission for a new POGO for the time being, but even that policy is likely to expire in the near future.

Unlike the Philippines, however, Cambodia has unfortunately yielded to demands from China, the victim of a simple economy.

Of course, China indirectly controls much of Cambodia’s financial infrastructure, forcing Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen to keep pace with China for its greater prosperity.

Whether this is an accurate calculus remains to be seen, but as of January 1, Cambodia’s online gambling industry is no longer. It just means more business in the Philippines.

According to Radio Free Asia, about 120,000 Chinese have left places where they have been working in Cambodia’s gambling sector since August 2019, and an estimated 7,000 natives have lost their jobs since Cambodia’s crackdown on anti-gambling regulations began in earnest earlier this week.

This departure will not occur in the Philippines now and perhaps in the near future. The proclamations will stay here, and their positive economic impact will continue throughout the country. There are no planned changes to the Philippine gambling law that will change this process.

For practical evidence of the above, the city of Makati in Manila expects 5% growth in 2020 in terms of office space to be built and leased to POGO and auxiliary industries. Since its establishment in 2016, there has been an increase in development and property value due to the impact of the online casino industry boom, and the trend is still following a significant upward trajectory.

Monique Cornelio Pronov, CEO of Pronov Thai International Real Estate Consultants, is bullish in the Philippine commercial market.


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