The Philippines is targeting to finish the privatization of all of its casino by the third quarter of 2017, according to a Philippine senator, according to a report of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on finance, disclosed during the plenary of the Department of Finance’s proposed 2017 budget that the government has started privatizing its casinos and it is expected to be completed by September next year.
PAGCOR’s casino privatization plan was brought up in the plenary after Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon inquired about the government’s stand on the proposal to remove the state regulator’s operating function.
Legarda, in response, told the chamber that the government has already started the process of privatizing the state casinos.
“I understand Mr. President that not only is the Finance Department in favor of your statement but they have already started it, the process of privatization and agreed that the regulatory function will only be retained with Pagcor,” she said. “[In] 2017, by the third quarter, Mr. President, it is projected based on the timeline, I’m told that the process can be consummated,”
Latest figures from PAGCOR shows that the state regulator operates 11 casinos in key cities of Metro Manila and the country’s major island groups. Aside from the casinos, PAGCOR also operates 8 highly-exclusive, members-only slot machine VIP clubs as well as 3 slot machine arcades in major cities across the country.
Casinos operated by Pagcor recorded gross gaming revenue of PHP23.88 billion (US$484.6 million) in the first nine months of 2016, up by 5.7 percent from the prior-year period, according to official data.
Meanwhile, Drilon pointed out that Congress need not to pass a legislation to remove PAGCOR’s operating function.
“Again I would advise the DOF that you don’t need legislation of Congress on this. Again this is delegated to the President and if the policy is to remove the operating function of Pagcor and just limit Pagcor to licensing because this is the better policy and this is actually the situation in many countries where there is a gaming industry,” Drilon said.
As for the state lottery, Legarda said that the government has no plans to privatize it. She, however, pointed out that there will be “strict monitoring” and an audit of the agency’s small town lottery or STL.
“Because it’s the belief of the DOF that not all earnings from STL are actually being remitted to the PCSO. They have not been totally transparent and therefore an audit is in order, which is going to be done soon,” Legarda said.
Through the audit, the senator said the PSCO could generate more revenues.