The Philippines Department of Finance (DOF) has promised to revisit a proposal to privatize the casino operations of gaming regulator PAGCOR during a Senate committee hearing this week.
Responding to questions from Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon regarding the proposal, which was first put forward three years ago, DOF Secretary Carlos Dominguez revealed that a government study had indicated it could potentially earn annual revenue of Php300 billion by privatizing both PAGCOR and the small-town lottery (STL).
“If we privatize our gaming industry and bid out through a fixed fee the privilege of operating PAGCOR, the gaming industry, including STL, would Php300 billion annually in additional revenues be a conservative and fair estimate today?” Drilon asked, according to the Inquirer.
“I believe so,” Dominguez replied. “We could achieve that with no effort.”
A previous analysis had indicated the government could generate around Php220 million from the privatization of PAGCOR and Php40 billion to Php50 billion from the privatization of STL.
Dominguez admitted that while the DOF submitted its initial proposal over the privatization of PAGCOR in 2016, it hasn’t progressed any further on the matter since. However, he added “we will push it again” after being urged by Drilon to take a second look.
PAGCOR announced in August 2016 its intention to sell the 47 casinos it owns and operates nationwide under order of President Rodrigo Duterte, with the goal of raising funds towards the national budget. The sale of licenses was scheduled to begin in 2018 with PAGCOR revealing in January 2018 that it had singled out 17 individual casinos under its operation to be offered to interested parties under phase one of the sell-off.
However, as revealed by Inside Asian Gaming late last year, the sale of those licenses was indefinitely put on hold with PAGCOR chair and CEO Andrea Domingo admitting the strong growth of the local gaming industry was proving too lucrative to give up.