DOF to re-approach privatization of PAGCOR casinos

Casino Filippino Paranaque

The Philippines’ Department of Finance is renewing its push to privatize the country’s state-owned casinos, a move that could earn the government around P300 billion (US$5.8 billion) yearly, local media reports. 

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III made the comment at a senate hearing after Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said that privatizing the gaming industry particularly the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), and small-town lottery (STL) operations, would be a “rich source” of revenue.

“If we privatize our gaming industry and bid out through a fixed fee the privilege of operating Pagcor, the gaming industry, including STL, would P300 billion annually in additional revenues be a conservative and fair estimate today?” Drilon asked.

“I believe so. We could achieve that with no effort,” said Dominguez. 

The senator then asked why the government did not push for privatization through an executive order.

Dominguez said that they submitted a proposal three years ago but they have not progressed from there. 

The senator also pointed out the conflict of interest for PAGCOR as being both a regulator and an operator. 

“All over the world, in all jurisdictions where there is a gaming industry, the government only limits its role to regulatory. The state is never involved in gambling itself, because of the basic conflict of interest since you are regulating yourself,” he said. 

“I’d put on record, I’d urge the Secretary of Finance to take a serious look at this…”  he added. 

Dominguez replied saying the department will push for it again.