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To privatise or not? COVID-19 puts PACGOR under the spotlight

Senate Minority Leader says state-owned casinos should be sold to raise funds to aid the growing budget deficit the pandemic is causing

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon called for the review of the government assets that could be sold off, and the funds from the sale of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) as what he recognises as the "low-hanging" fruits, will be solely used to help fund the government's efforts in fighting against the Covid-19.

Senate Minority Leader, Franklin Drilon.

PAGCOR is a 100% government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) under the Office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines and is mandated to remit at least 50% of its annual revenue for the Philippine government's socio-civic and national development programs. PAGCOR also operates 8 casino branches and 33 satellite branches all over metro manila and the major tourist destinations in the country.

PCSO on the other hand is government-owned and controlled corporation mandated to raise and provide funds for health programs, medical assistance and services, and charities of national character.

Total reported cases of COVID-19 for the Philippines so far are just above 5220 of which 335 patients have died and 295 have already recovered. CNN Philippines reported Drilon as stating, "We have an untapped ‘goldmine’ that can generate up to P300 billion in fresh revenues yearly. I hope our economic managers will move faster on this this time, because the effects of COVID-19 pandemic will go beyond 2020,".

President Rodrigo Duterte is in favor of the idea, should the available funds be insufficient. In contrast to this, PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Andrea Domingo on Inside Asian Gaming in 2018 expressed that the growing gaming revenues they had been generating has caused a halt to the sale of the regulator’s casinos.

“With the IRs, our share of the GGR is about 19.5% so if you look into that and the contribution to the national government every year, if you take this out it will take five years for a new IR to contribute that amount which automatically lessens our net contribution to the national government by Php22 billion for at least for the next 10 years.”

“I think for the next few years, because they’re still profitable – because the PAGCOR owned and operated casinos, the GGR they yield goes directly to the government, 100%,” Domingo stated back in 2018.

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In order to bring key players of global iGaming and emerging tech sectors together, SiGMA Group will host an online conference in partnership with ICE Asia, taking place on June 8-10th, 2020. Register for free here. SiGMA Manila will be now held on the 27th and 28th of May 2021. To become a part of the fastest paced Asian iGaming event, book a pass or sponsor & exhibit here. SiGMA Group will also bring together operators, suppliers, and affiliates, facilitating new business opportunities for both existing and emerging markets at their signature show happening in Malta on November 17-19th, 2020. Book a pass or sponsor and exhibit for SiGMA Malta now.

For those planning to attend the summits this is the buzzing business environment to be expected:

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