Date: 16.08.2023

by Mateusz Mazur

PAGCOR Unveils Plans to Privatize Casinos by 2025

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has made an audacious announcement regarding its plan to privatize 45 of its casinos by the third quarter of 2025. This revelation came from PAGCOR’s Chairperson, Alejandro Tengco, during the House of Representatives’ national budget deliberations on Monday.

PAGCOR plans to privatize 45 casinos

Tengco shared his vision during the deliberations, stating, “Definitely, my trust is to privatize the 45 casinos of PAGCOR and I’m looking at 2025 as my timeline.” He stressed his intention to increase the value of the privatized entities, asserting, “My goal is to increase the value of what we will privatize. This will keep going, it can’t be stopped.”

The decision to privatize arises partly from concerns raised by various stakeholders, including Parañaque’s 1st District Representative, Edwin Olivarez. He questioned the dual roles of PAGCOR as both a regulator and operator. The comparison of offshore operators’ higher revenues with those of PAGCOR-operated casinos prompted Olivarez to suggest that privatizing certain PAGCOR assets could prove beneficial from a strategic standpoint.

However, the proposed privatization strategy wasn’t met without scepticism. Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez expressed reservations about the necessity of selling PAGCOR’s casinos, especially if the agency foresees increasing returns from these assets in the near future. Rodriguez pointed out, “It seems that everything will be in order in the coming years, so why are we going to sell the goose that lays the golden egg?” He cautioned against potential disruptions to the steady income generated by these casinos through privatization.

Focus on regulations

At the outset of the deliberations, PAGCOR’s Vice President, Sharon Quintanilla, presented the agency’s financial accomplishments. She revealed a total revenue of $1 billion (₱58.96 billion) for 2022. PAGCOR’s projections are optimistic, with an estimated income of $1.33 billion (₱75.49 billion) by the end of 2023, followed by a further increase to $1.41 billion (₱80.28 billion) in 2024.

Chief Tengco elaborated on the rationale behind PAGCOR’s privatization initiative. The goal is to streamline PAGCOR’s role by focusing solely on regulation, thus relieving the agency of the dual responsibilities of operating its own casinos.

While PAGCOR is eager to progress with its privatization plan, Tengco assured that a meticulous evaluation of the process will be undertaken to ensure its alignment with the agency’s overarching objectives and efficiency standards. This move signifies a significant shift in PAGCOR’s role and approach, potentially redefining the landscape of the Philippine casino industry in the years to come.