The Philippines’ Secretary of Finance has been quoted by local media saying the country’s casino regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), should confine itself to oversight of the industry, and no longer involve itself directly in casino operations via state-controlled venues.
“Pagcor is a regulator but at the same time it operates gambling companies. That’s wrong. If you’re a regulator, stick to that. You cannot run gambling casinos,” Benjamin Diokno was cited as saying.
“We can privatise its operations so Pagcor can stick to being a regulator,” Mr Diokno reportedly added.
The country’s Governance Commission for Government-Owned or Controlled Corporations was already in the process of evaluating such a step, he added.
Mr Diokno observed the idea had been proposed prior to the current administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, but had met “resistance”.
His comments were reported in the context of a fresh proposal to create a sovereign wealth fund, to be known as the Maharlika Wealth Fund.
Pagcor would be asked to put 10 percent of its gross gaming revenue into the fund, reported local media. It was not clarified in reports, what impact – if any – that would have on the current structure of Pagcor’s contributions to the public purse.
As long ago as November 2017, in the early phase of the national presidency of Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine government was said to be considering a special body to oversee privatisation of some casinos then described as being operated by the country’s gaming regulator.
Pagcor operates state-owned casinos under the “Casino Filipino” umbrella, and also licences and regulates private-sector venues.
According to the Casino Filipino website, there is a chain of venues under that name, as well as a number of venues described either as “tie ups” or “satellites”.
Alejandro Tengco, the new chairman and chief executive of Pagcor, said in August he hoped the entity would be “given time to study” the idea that its gaming operator function should be hived off from its gaming regulatory duty.
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