PAGCOR privatization up for Palace approval

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THE PLAN to privatize the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) is now up for the President’s approval, according to the body overseeing government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs).

Governance Commission on GOCCs (GCG) spokesperson Johann Carlos S. Barcena said that the commission submitted its memorandum on the privatization in August.

“The GCG has submitted a memorandum for the President recommending the approval of the decoupling of commercial and regulatory functions of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation through the privatization of PAGCOR-owned and operated casinos,” Mr. Barcena said in an e-mail.

“Once decoupled, PAGCOR shall be limited to performing its regulatory functions,” he added.

However, Mr. Barcena said that the privatization scheme, which will trigger an auction, is still being reviewed, as well as its valuation.

The GCG is authorized to recommend the streamlining, reorganization, merger, privatization or abolition of GOCCs.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III has said he wants to remove PAGCOR’s conflict of interest as a regulator of the gaming industry as well as an operator of gaming centers.

He said the Finance department may prioritize the sale of solely PAGCOR-owned casinos, before disposing of those units held by a consortium with private firms. 

Mr. Dominguez said that the review of the privatization process will take until the end of the year, before proceeding with an auction in 2018.

Andrea D. Domingo, who chairs PAGCOR, has said that the government will lose an annual P24 billion following the disposal of its commercial activities, but this will be offset by additional taxes and higher license fees from the new casino owners.

PAGCOR, the government’s third-largest revenue-generating agency, reported P28.27 billion in gross gaming revenue in the first six months of the year, up 8.38% from a year earlier.

For 2017, it targets P155-160 billion in gross gaming revenue, which is about 30% more than its 2016 target, and 4% above its actual P149-billion 2016 performance. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan