Resolve conflicting roles, Pagcor told

State gaming firm Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. should resolve its seemingly conflicting roles as an operator and regulator, a Cabinet official said.

“PAGCOR’s new leadership will have to make known their plans moving forward,” Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno told reporters over the weekend.

Diokno, citing an earlier report that calls for PAGCOR to divest its gaming assets so the agency can devote its complete attention to casino regulation, has come up numerous times in the past.

PAGCOR is the third largest revenue-generating agency after the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Customs because of casino operations.

The previous administration prevented pursuing the sale as it was concerned of potential revenue losses.

“In the short and medium term there will be no revenue loss because of privatization proceeds,” Diokno added.

Review functions

When asked about taxes and license fees from future owners of PAGCOR casino assets and if these will be enough in the long term, the secretary said that “the new leadership should consider the worthiness of their move appropriate to their role.”

Moreover, PAGCOR performs a variety of vital functions. It is the regulator of all games of chance in the Philippines and oversees the privately owned casinos including the integrated resorts in Entertainment City and other casinos located in resort destinations. In addition,
Also, PAGCOR regulates other forms of gaming such as e-game cafes, sports betting, and electronic bingo outlets.

These operations can be found throughout the provinces and collectively are sizable enterprises. There are approximately 26,000 electronic bingo machines serving the local population.

In addition, there are approximately 200 e-gaming cafes, each with 50 to 100 machines that can be found in malls and storefronts throughout the country.

Furthermore, PAGCOR said it could still be a few years before nationwide gross gaming revenues return to pre-Covid levels, with full recovery not expected until 2026.

Philippines GGR reached P256 billion ($4.62 billion) in 2019 before plummeting 54.3 percent year-on-year to P98.8 billion ($1.78 billion) in 2020.

Revenues climbed to P131 billion ($2.36 billion) last year and reached P39.2 billion ($749 million) in the first three months of 2022.

However, PAGCOR expects GGR to surpass 2019 levels by 2026, when the agency predicts GGR will reach at least P256 billion ($4.62 billion).

The recovery would be driven by pent-up demand and greater consumer confidence among both domestic and foreign gamblers, it said.

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