The casino industry in the Philippines has grown considerably during the last 5 years as international casino operators have invested heavily to develop a number of new integrated casino resorts. These international casino operators have had to compete with a number of local casinos that are owned and operated by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor).
Pagcor Owns Multiple Casinos
Pagcor is also the gaming regulator in the country and is responsible for granting casino licenses and overseeing the gaming industry. This makes it very interesting because there is a clearly a conflict of interest as the gaming regulator is also the owner of numerous domestic casinos such as the VIP Club Universal, Club Cotabato, Malabon and Club Tropicana Sta Mesa to name a few.
Pagcor not only serves as the gaming regulator in the Philippines but also runs its own brand of casinos under the ‘Casino Filipino’ brand. The gaming regulator currently serves as the regulator for both private and state run casinos while having its own suite of casinos spread across 13 locations in the Philippines. The Pagcor website also claims that it operates an additional 35 satellite casinos across the country.
Pagcor Will Be Stripped Of Ownership Rights
The Philippine Department of Finance announced in August 2016 a plan to strip Pagcor of its responsibility to operate its list of public sector casinos. A bill was submitted in May 2017 by a legislator which called on the Senate to change the Presidential Decree that was responsible for creating Pagcor. The bill pointed out the potential conflict of interest and wanted Pagcor to be stripped of its responsibility of being the country’s gaming regulator.
Carlos G. Dominguez III, who serves as the finance secretary in the Philippines recently announced that Pagcor would commence the process of selling its casinos in 2018. The government wants Pagcor to sell all of its casinos and then focus on its responsibility of being the country’s gaming regulator.
Privatization Process To Take A Long Time
Dominguez says that the process for Pagcor to sell its casinos will be a long and drawn out process because the government has to complete an individual audit of each Pagcor owned casino to determine their size and total revenues. The government will also have to take note of the total number of visitors as well as the number of gaming tables present in each venue. Once a detailed audit is completed, the government will be in a better position to determine the sale price of each casino and then look for potential buyers.
The audit of all Pagcor owned casinos is expected to be completed before the end of 2017. Once this is done, the government will have to determine the method of privatization that it will adopt for each casino and then proceed to complete the privatization process. Dominguez stated that while the audits should be completed before the year end, completing the privatization process of all Pagcor owned casinos could take a number of years. This is because the overall process is quite complex and the government does not want to rush things and miss out on an opportunity of obtaining the best possible deal in a potential sale.
Pagcor Generates Significant Revenue
Pagcor is one of the government owned companies that generates top revenue for the government. Pagcor saw an increase of more than 25 percent in gross gaming revenue bringing in P14 billion in during the first quarter of 2017 when compared to the P11 billion in 2016.  The government received P7.37 billion in the form of gaming taxes and levies during the first quarter.
There are some parties who expressed concern with the move to have Pagcor sell its casinos as they believe it will reduce the government’s revenue stream. Dominguez addressed these concerns by stating that the government will not be impacted negatively and furthermore there is no way for private casinos to compete with government owned casinos. He went on to say that it was the right time to privatize casinos or else Pagcor could soon start to lose their customers and start to see a decline in revenues due to the increase in competition.

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