The Philippines’ Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the government expects the country’s gaming regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), to collect additional tax revenues once the state-owned casinos are privatised. Mr Dominguez was quoted saying that the government is determined to sell the casinos currently operated by Pagcor, as the latter body should focus on its regulatory functions.
“The revenue stream will still come to the government because they have to pay taxes,” Mr Dominguez told reporters on Friday as quoted by the Manila Bulletin newspaper. “We’re not saying that once you are privatised, you are not supposed to pay taxes anymore,” he added.
The Philippines’ Department of Finance announced in August last year a plan to strip Pagcor of the right to operate a portfolio of public sector casinos. It had been reported by local media in May that the government would like to invite bids from the private sector – by year-end – for the publicly-run casinos of Pagcor.
Pagcor directly operates a suite of state-run casinos and oversees a number of private-sector ones. Its own brand of casinos is called “Casino Filipino”. According to the latter’s website, the brand operates venues in eight locations across the country, and has a further 36 so-called “satellite” sites across the Philippines.
On Friday, Mr Dominguez said the government expects to get additional tax revenues once the state-run casinos are sold, while Pagcor is likely to generate higher licence fees from the future owners of these gaming venues.
“Casinos pay a specific rate of tax, they [also] pay for the right to have a casino, then they have to pay for a certain percentage of their gross [revenue]. So, the government will still earn the money [from these casino operations],” Mr Dominguez reportedly said.
A lawmaker in the Philippines submitted a bill in late May to the country’s Senate to amend a Presidential Decree that created Pagcor. The bill states that Pagcor “should cede its role as operator of all gambling and gaming activities”.
“Through such manner, it can focus and put premium to its regulatory authority, which is its governmental role,” senator Panfilo Lacson said in the explanatory note of Senate Bill 1471.
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