The Philippines’ gaming regulator-cum-operator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), has started privatising the casinos it operates in the country. Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate’s Committee on Finance, disclosed the information on Wednesday, reported local media outlet Inquirer.net.
The plan to strip Pagcor of the right to operate a portfolio of public sector casinos had been announced in August by the Philippines’ Department of Finance. The move would leave Pagcor with its core function of being a regulator of casinos from the private sector.
On Wednesday, Ms Legarda said the government had “already started the process of privatisation” of Pagcor’s casino operations, adding that only the “regulatory function will be retained by Pagcor,” reported the Inquirer.net.
Ms Legarda was also quoted saying it was expected the process would be completed by September next year. “[In] 2017, by the third quarter … I’m told that the process can be consummated,” she said.
The move to privatise Pagcor-owned casinos aims to raise funds to support the country’s 2017 national budget. It was not disclosed how much the government expected to earn from the sale of its own casinos.
According to Pagcor third-quarter data, its own casinos operated nearly 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 565 gaming tables and 10,271 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 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.
Nationwide casino GGR for the first nine months of 2016 – including revenue from the private casino sector – increased 19.8 percent year-on-year to PHP99.77 billion.
Pagcor reported net income of PHP3.20 billion for the first nine months of 2016. Income from gaming operations – prior to gaming taxes and fees payable to the government – stood at PHP38.13 billion in the nine months to September 30, up 17.0 percent from a year earlier. It included PHP12.20 billion of regulatory fees from licences of private sector casinos.
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