The Chairman and CEO of Philippines gaming regulator PAGCOR said Tuesday that he expects the agency to privatize its casino operations arm during his term and focus all of its energies on regulation.
In the clearest indication yet that PAGCOR’s dual role as operator and regulator could be coming to an end, Alejandro Tengco explained that the current PAGCOR Board of Directors planned to focus much more on its regulatory role and “hopes to privatize the state-run gaming firm’s self-operated casinos nationwide”, according to a PAGCOR press release.
Tengco added that PAGCOR has been “open to talks about privatization but [has] ensured that the welfare of employees who will be affected by such management decision will be taken into consideration.”
The issue of privatizing PAGCOR’s 41 casinos – nine of them run under the Casino Filipino brand and 32 as pure satellites – has become more prominent in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic with supporters of a sell-off claiming privatization would provide a cash windfall while eliminating a clear conflict of interest.
While no plan has yet been formalized on how to offload such a substantial asset base, Tengco said he was confident PAGCOR’s casinos had plenty to offer – despite the growing influence of the Philippines’ licensed casinos in Entertainment City and Clark.
“While we may struggle to be at par facilities-wise, I am of the firm belief that we do not trail behind in terms of skill set and talent pool,” he said.
“The greatest asset PAGCOR has ever had is its human resources. To capitalize on our people is also part of our vision.”
PAGCOR recently reported GGR from PAGCOR operated casinos of Php4.83 billion (US$88 million) in 4Q22, up from Php4.63 billion (US$85 million) in Q3 although still well below the Php9.17 billion (US$169 million) reported in 4Q19. Total GGR from PAGCOR casinos through FY19 was Php37.1 billion (US$683 million).