Belle/Melco interested in Pagcor casinos

    Belle Corp executive vice president Armin Santos said his company and joint venture partner Melco Crown may be interested in buying up the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp’s local casinos should the regulator/operator choose or be forced to sell off its holdings. Santos was speaking at a panel discussion at G2E Asia on the prospects for the Philippine market. Moderator Ben Lee, managing partner of GamiX Management & Consulting Ltd, pressed panelists on what would be the impact on the country’s multi-billion IRs should Pagcor sell off its casino holdings to focus on its regulatory role. Lee pointed out that Philippine tycoons, such as those heading San Miguel Corp and Ayala Land, may be interested in a low-cost point of entry into the local casino market. “If they do decide to privatize it would be an opportunity for us to join it,” Santos said. “The properties that Pagcor owns in neighbouring areas of Manila are valuable assets. We hope that Pagcor does decide to privatize them as it would help the industry,” he said. International investors have expressed concern about Pagcor’s dual role as a regulator and casino operator, the conference heard.