PAGCOR to analyse possible privatisation of gaming operations

Lawmakers suggest that PAGCOR can no longer be both a regulator and operator.
Lawmakers suggest that PAGCOR can no longer be both a regulator and operator.

PAGCOR’s new chairman and CEO, Alejandro H. Tengco, said the agency is looking at the possibility of ending its dual role.

The Philippines.- New CEO and chairman, Alejandro H. Tengco, has confirmed that PAGCOR is to evaluate the possibility of privatising its gaming operations. The announcement comes after finance secretary Benjamin E. Diokno suggested that PAGCOR needed to resolve the potential conflict of interests caused by its dual role of operator and regulator.

PAGCOR currently regulates, authorises and licenses gaming in the Philippines but it also operates over 40 casinos itself.

Tengco told Philstar: “We are hoping to be given time to study this. That is part of our current thrust and agenda to really distinguish whether we are a regulator or an operator. If we will be able to draw the line and distinguish, the option will be [that] PAGCOR will be the regulator for gaming operations, both land-based and online.

“For the PAGCOR-operated casinos nationwide, if we make decisions, the best thing that we could foresee is privatize.”

Government estimates have suggested that privatising gaming could generate PHP300bn a year. Former finance chief Carlos Dominguez had previously raised the idea of privatising PAGCOR’s gaming operations but the Duterte administration didn’t go ahead.

PAGCOR reported net income of PHP2.16bn (US$38.8m) for the first half of the year, up 2,600 per cent when compared to last year. The regulator reported income from gaming operations of PHP24.72bn (US$443m), up 67.3 per cent year-on-year. Total income was PHP26.70bn, up 68.1 per cent.

The regulator expects its net income to increase by 52 per cent to PHP54bn this year from the PHP35.49bn it generated last year. Additionally, its contribution to government programs and projects is expected to increase by 55 per cent to PHP35.55bn.

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