Philippine conglomerate Belle Corp says its consolidated net income for the first half of 2019 has declined by 11 percent year-on-year, due to “weaker results” in its lottery segment, and despite an increase in its share of revenue from casino operations.
Such income was PHP1.73 billion (US$33.9 million), compared to PHP1.95 billion for the first half of 2018, the firm said in a filing to the Philippine Stock Exchange.
Belle Corp’s gaming-focused subsidiary, Premium Leisure Corp, recorded an increase of 9 percent in its share in the gaming earnings of City of Dreams Manila casino resort, to PHP1.88 billion for the first half of 2019, from PHP1.73 billion in the comparable period a year earlier.
Belle Corp is entitled – via its 78.7 percent-owned Premium Leisure – to a share of “gaming revenues or earnings” at City of Dreams Manila, a Manila casino resort operated by a unit of Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd.
The growth in the gaming segment however was offset by weaker results at Pacific Online Systems Corp, a unit that leases online betting equipment to the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) for the latter’s lottery and keno operations.
According to Belle Corp’s Monday filing, Pacific Online posted a 49-percent decrease in revenues, to PHP559 million in the six months to June 30.
“This was due largely to competition from the small-town lottery [segment]. Pacific Online is working closely with the PCSO and its network of agents to boost the attractiveness of the pari-mutuel games it offers and is working to implement cost efficiency measures across its operations,” said the parent company.
PCSO lotteries suspended
The company’s lottery segment is however facing headwinds. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday ordered a halt to all of the country’s lotteries and gaming activities run by the PCSO, accusing the agency of corruption.
PCSO is a government-owned and controlled corporation, under direct supervision of the office of the President of the Philippines. The agency raises funds for health programmes and medical assistance through daily sweepstakes and lotteries.
Mr Duterte on Friday ordered an investigation of the PCSO, saying the government was being “cheated” of its rightful share of revenue from the agency’s activities.
“The ground is massive corruption involving all, even the courts,” Mr Duterte said in a speech posted on the presidential communication office’s Facebook account on Friday.
Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo was quoted by local media outlets as saying that the PCSO did not fully remit the government’s “rightful share” from sanctioned games, including lotto, small-town lottery and keno. The spokesman added that it would be up to President Duterte if the PCSO closure would be permanent.
The Manila Times newspaper reported that the country’s Department of Justice defended the President’s action, saying he had the authority to stop PCSO games, and that the decision did not violate the licence of private operators.
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