Philippines To Get Out of Casino BusinessJune 6, 2017 1:14 pm
Since being founded in 1976, the nation’s gaming agency known as the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has grown into an organization that is responsible for overseeing 11 casinos, and 36 smaller venues, which together employ around 11,000 employees. In addition to acting as a gaming regulator, PAGCOR is also a public-private partnership collaboration which this year is expected to generate $3 billion in revenue, growing to around $7 billion by 2020.
However, the Philippine government has now decided to exit the casino business and last week announced its plan to sell off its state-owned gambling assets. According to President Rodrigo Duterte, PAGCOR should now start focussing its efforts on strengthening its position as a gambling industry regulator, with Sen. Panfilo Lacson having already introduced a bill to the Senate in order to pave the way for the landmark overhaul of the country’s gambling market. As Lacson subsequently explained:
“In order to promote a level playing field in the gambling industry and avoid conflict of interests, PAGCOR should cede its role as operator of all gambling and gaming activities. Through such manner, it can focus and put premium to its regulatory authority, which is its governmental role.”
Amongst the Philippines’s bigger gambling venues is the City of Dreams, Solaire, and Resorts World, which together with the country’s other establishments produced revenues of $284.3 million in the first quarter of 2017. From that tally, the corporation directly gave the federal government half of its income, with other requirements including each year PAGCOR paying around $300,000 to help fund the Dangerous Drugs Board.
Currently it is uncertain whether the government will be selling its holdings in the businesses on a property by property basis, or en masse. Perhaps realizing how difficult it is for a publicly owned company to operate casinos profitably, Presdient Duterte has now tasked PAGCOR, instead, with reorganizing the industry in order to make the Philippines “the top gaming and entertainment destination” for southeast Asian visitors.