A sale of PAGCOR’s wouldn’t be an option, analysts say.
The Philippines.- The government is keen to bring in more revenue due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, but selling Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR)‘s own casinos wouldn’t be an option, analysts say.
The regulator-cum-operator’s dual role has been a topic of long debate given the potential conflict of interest, and analysts have claimed that that the position is untenable if the Philippines want to establish a world-class gaming industry and regulatory system.
However, while PAGOR currently operates 40 properties, it does so via leases and doesn’t own the properties themselves.
Scott Feeney, director at GCG Gaming Advisory Services, said: “I’m not convinced that investors would be keen on purchasing a lease and then having to compete with the 5-Star developments in Entertainment City or the current and future developments in Cebu and Clark.”
Andrew Klebanow, principal at C3 Gaming agreed that government shouldn’t sell the licenses. He said: “Any suitor would take advantage of the government’s need for funds and offer a lowball price. It would be wise for the government to let PAGCOR continue to own and operate its assets.”
Andrea Domingo, PAGCOR chairman, recently said the casino industry in the Philippines could return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of next year if the country achieves herd immunity and borders restrictions are lifted.
She also predicted PAGCOR’s revenues could reach between PHP35bn (US$701.6m) to PHP38bn in 2021.
The regulator also revealed that gaming income for the first half fell by 20 per cent year-on-year to PHP14.7bn (US$293.1m). In the first six months, the regulator made a profit of PHP79m.
It previously reported that gaming revenue fell by 51.4 per cent year-on-year to PHP8.36bn (US$172.8m) in the first quarter of 2021, compared to nearly PHP17.22bn (US$339.8m) in the first quarter of 2020. Net income reached PHP152.6m (US$3.2m), down 80 per cent from Php777.4m (US$15.3m).