A new turn in the long-running conversation about PAGC or privatisation

Philippines and the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives reportedly called on newly elected President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to set up a new state-run regulator for the domestic casino industry.

According to a report by Inside Asian Gaming, Rufus Rodriguez’s plea comes amid growing criticism against the Philippine Play Games Corporation (PAGCor) for its dual role as casino regulator and operator. The sources explained that the company is responsible for issuing licenses and managing responsible gambling programs, while also being responsible for its portfolio of 47 gambling-friendly properties.

Previous push:

PAGCor, founded in 1977, was due to start selling its operating stake in 2016 on orders from then-President Rodrigo Duterte. But the campaign was initially delayed by two years due to allegations that corporate real estate was a valuable source of revenue for a country struggling to recover its fragile economy.

Request for replacement:

Rodriguez has reportedly offered a fresh view on this long-term discussion by asking the government to create a new Filipino casino game regulator and then allow it to act as the ultimate watchdog for the country’s burgeoning gambling industry. Rodriguez, 68, said such a move would eliminate the need for PAGCor to be privatized and ensure that the company remains successful by focusing only on its obligations as an operator.

Reports say he read Rodriguez’s affidavit…

“I am strongly opposed to privatizing PAGC. So why kill a golden egg-laying goose or sell it in a more appropriate way? This situation, where PAGC is the regulator and the player, is unfair to businessmen who invest in casinos because it doesn’t help attract investment.”

Latest Leadership:

PAGCor’s casino properties generated about $660 million in total gaming revenue in 2019, before the pandemic, and more recently reportedly saw total receipts in the first half of the year rise by 68% year-on-year to about $475 million. The organization was placed under the control of a new five-member board led by local businessman Alejandro Tengco in the role of chairman and chief executive last month, with attorney Juanito Sanosa filling the post as president and chief operating officer.


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