The Philippine casino regulator said on Friday it had remitted “an additional PHP5 billion” (US$100.3 million) in what it termed “cash dividends” to the country’s treasury, which it said brought the agency’s total dividend contribution for 2019 to PHP17 billion.
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) stated in a release: “The agency’s latest remittance is mainly in support of the government’s fight against the novel coronavirus disease.”
There has been anticipation among investment analysts that the Philippine government might soon allow the reopening of the large-scale private-sector casinos in the Entertainment City zone in the nation’s capital Manila. They have been closed since mid-March due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In normal trading times those resorts are key contributors to public revenues raised from the activities of the Philippine casino market.
Friday’s Pagcor release noted that on March 23, the regulator had provided PHP12 billion to “state coffers”.
It added that following Friday’s remittance, Pagcor remained the third-highest contributor of cash dividends for 2019 among the government-owned and controlled corporations.
The document stated the latest remittance was in response to a request from the nation’s Finance Secretary, Carlos Dominguez, and had been provided via Pagcor’s “2019 net earnings, and accumulated retained earnings in 2018”.
The release cited Andrea Domingo, chairman and chief executive of Pagcor, as saying: “There’s a need to infuse more funds to the government’s effort in battling the Covid-19 pandemic. With our latest cash dividends remittance, we hope to contribute more significantly to that cause.”
She added, referring to the effects on the industry and on Pagcor of the operational shutdown: “We might have suffered huge revenue losses but we can’t afford to lose the fight against this global health crisis.”
Pagcor said in its Friday release that apart from payment of cash dividends, the regulator had initially released – between March and April – a total of PHP14.5 billion to the Socio-Civic Projects Fund of the Office of the President.
The regulator added that on March 24, it had “turned over” PHP6 billion to the Office of the President, in addition to PHP2-billion and PHP500-million remittances that were released on March 11 and March 1, respectively.
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”Despite the re-opening of the integrated resort [Okada Manila], we believe there are significant risks to the segment’s recovery in view of travel restrictions, potential new outbreaks and further lockdowns that could weigh on earnings and cash flows”