The Philippines’ gaming regulator-cum-operator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), confirmed it is planning to sell the casinos it operates, in a bid to raise funds to support the country’s 2017 national budget.
“Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez has told us to privatise Pagcor-owned casinos,” Andrea Domingo, the new head of Pagcor, told a House budget hearing last week, reported the Philippine Star newspaper.
“We are now preparing the template for the planned privatisation so we could maximise the benefits for the government,” Ms Domingo added.
The plan – announced earlier this month by the Philippines’ Department of Finance – would leave Pagcor with its core function of being a regulator of casinos from the public and private sectors.
According to Pagcor second-quarter data, its own casinos operated about a third of all table games in that nation’s market during the period, and nearly six out of every 10 electronic gaming machines (EGMs).
Pagcor operated 608 gaming tables and 10,603 EGMs at its own casino venues, which are branded “Casino Filipino”. During the same period, Pagcor regulated a further 10 private-sector casinos that operated an aggregate of 1,280 gaming tables and 7,205 EGMs.
Casinos operated by Pagcor recorded gross gaming revenue of PHP15.80 billion (US$340.7 million) in the six months to June 30, according to official data.
Pagcor’s Ms Domingo did not disclose how much the government expected to earn from the sale of its own casinos. She admitted though that selling state-run casinos would just bring in one-time revenue for the treasury, unlike operating them, reported the Philippine Star.
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”Given that the blanket casino closure [in Macau due to Typhoon Mangkhut] happened on an all-important weekend day… we expect that somewhere between MOP1.1 billion [US$136.2 million] and MOP1.5 billion in GGR will be lost”
Analyst at Union Gaming Securities Asia