PAGCOR plans to privatize 45 casinos to streamline focus on regulatory oversight

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has revealed its intention to privatize 45 of its casinos by the third quarter of 2025, according to the agency’s chairperson’s announcement on Monday.

PAGCOR’s Chief, Alejandro Tengco, shared this plan during the national budget deliberations at the House of Representatives, stating, “Definitely, my trust is to privatize the 45 casinos of PAGCOR and I’m looking at 2025 as my timeline.”

He further emphasized the aim to enhance the value of the privatized entities, stating: “My goal is to increase the value of what we will privatize. This will keep going, it can’t be stopped.”

Tengco’s declaration came as a response to the query of Parañaque’s 1st District Representative, Edwin Olivarez, who raised concerns over PAGCOR’s simultaneous roles as a regulator and operator.

Olivarez highlighted the agency’s report indicating that offshore operators yield higher revenues than PAGCOR-operated casinos, suggesting that privatization of certain PAGCOR assets might be a strategic move.

Contrastingly, Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez expressed skepticism regarding the necessity of privatizing PAGCOR’s casinos, especially if the agency predicts increasing returns from these assets in the upcoming years.

Rodriguez remarked: “It seems that everything will be in order in the coming years, so why are we going to sell the goose that lays the golden egg?” He emphasized that privatization might curtail the steady stream of income that these casinos generate.

In the initial stages of deliberations, PAGCOR’s Vice President, Sharon Quintanilla, presented the agency’s financial achievements, disclosing a total revenue of $1 billion (₱58.96 billion) in 2022.

Additionally, PAGCOR estimates its income to reach$1.33 billion (₱75.49) billion by the close of 2023, with projections indicating a further increase to $1.41 billion (₱80.28 billion) in 2024.

Chief Tengco underscored the motivation behind PAGCOR’s move to privatize, aiming to concentrate on its core function of regulating operators without the additional responsibility of managing its own casinos. He emphasized: “PAGCOR should purely be a regulator and not an operator at the same time.”

However, Tengco made it clear that PAGCOR will diligently evaluate the entire privatization process to ensure its efficacy and adherence to the agency’s objectives.