The privatization of a chain of the state-owned casinos proposed by Pagcor’s Chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco and approved by the Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr is expected to raise PHP60 billion (US$1.06 billion) to PHP80 billion US$1.41 billion) for the country. According to reports, Tengco presented the price range in the House of Representatives on August 14. He reportedly also announced that a special audit commission will audit the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) to prevent the casino revenue leakage.
CNN reported on August 14 that the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) is set to privatize 45 of its casinos by the third quarter of 2025. The supporters from the House claimed that overseas operators generate a higher revenue levels than the Pagcor-operated casinos, while the opponents argued that the privatization will represent a sale of ”a goose that lays golden eggs.” Nevertheless, Tengco announced the upgrade of more than 3,000 electronic gaming machines to make the most of the upcoming privatization.
As GGRAsia reports, Tengco said in the House: “The privatisation of the 45 properties of Pagcor will push through in the third quarter, at the earliest, of 2025.” He added that the privatization will solve the Pagcor’s dual-role situation. “Pagcor should purely be a regulator. We are the only one in the world that acts as a regulator and operator. It is inappropriate and unethical because we give licences and yet we also operate,” Tengco reportedly said.
Sell-Off Price Estimates:
The Pagcor leader reportedly referred to the sell-off price range as a ”minimum estimate” expected to grow during the respective bidding process. According to GGRAsia, the sell-off price for the Pagcor Casino Filipino properties had been suggested by the country’s Department of Finance at a range between PHP200 billion to PHP250 billion.
But Mr Tengco reportedly told the House committee hearing that such an estimate included properties that are no longer attributed to Pagcor. Also, the House Representative Joey Salceda reportedly suggested during the hearing that the privatization process may generate up to PHP120 billion (US$2.11 billion) to PHP128 billion (US$2.25billion) for the country.
Sell-Off Prize Range:
The same source reports that the privatization is expected to generate PHP60 billion (US$1.06 billion) to PHP80 billion US$1.41 billion) for the state. Some analysts are reportedly reluctant to approve the estimates considering even the PHP80 billion level ambitious, but the Philippine privately-owned casino sector has expressed the willingness to get involved in the process, as GGRAsia reports.
For this purpose, Pagcor is set to upgrade around 3,000 electronic gaming machines. “The goal is to increase the value of what we will privatise,” Tengco reportedly said in the House.
As reported, Pagcor-operated venues reached PHP15.79 billion (US$280 million) in gross gaming revenues in 2022, with mass-market slot machines reaching PHP8.47 billion(US$150 million). As Asian Gaming Brief reports, Pagcor CEO also said that he is involved in the Department of Finance’s considerations of the future ownership structure of the agency. The agency’s current status of a government owned and controller corporation prescribes payment of around 50% of its profit to the state Treasury.
Audit Decides Status of POGOs:
According to Asian Gaming Brief, Pagcor CEO and Chairman Alejandro Tengco used the August 14 hearing in the Philippine House of Representatives to announce that a special team from Philippines’ Commission of Audit (COA) will act as an auditor for POGOs since Pagcor now needs to arrange for a new third-party auditor. The move has reportedly been driven by the fact that one single POGO that operated for only eight months incurred the tax revenue loss to Pagcor of around PHP2.2 billion ($38.68 million).
Answering the questions whether all POGOs should be shut down, the agency’s Chairman reportedly noted that these operators currently have a probationary status and that they shall reapply for licenses by September 15 to avoid license revocations. Tengco reportedly noted: “This is a one one-strike policy and that if they will continue to be involved in the illegal activities such as credit card scams, crypto-investment scams, love match scams, I will recommend the closure of the industry.”