Philippines State Casinos Could be Privatized 

A change in how casinos owned by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has been suggested by a top economist in the country.  

The proposal has been made to the Philippines’ National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) that allowing the private sector to operate the 47 state owned casinos is a workable idea. This is by no means the first time that such a move has been suggested. 

Three years ago, there was a proposal to privatize PAGCOR’s casino arm. The idea that doing so would allow them to place their entire focus on their regulatory duties. August of that year saw PAGCOR announce their intention to sell the 47 casinos they both owned and operated. Funds raised were to be given to the national budget with sales due to begin in 2018. However, the sale of 17 casinos was put on hold because the increase in revenue from the local gaming industry was something they didn’t want to let go of. 

Last month though those ideas came back into play. Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilo raised a question suggesting that the ideas be revisited, and the Philippines Department of Finance has promised to do just that. 

They also called for the Small-Town Lottery to be privatized so there could be some big changes on the way. Increased revenue is of course an influence on such decisions. A government study claimed that outsourcing the casino and lottery operations could bring in Php300billion (£4.68bn) a year. 

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia – who is the chief economist in the Philippines – believes a change is needed. His opinion is that the same body having both commercial and regulatory roles for government owned and controlled corporations can be conflicting. He added that the private sector “may be in a better position to carry out some of their commercial pursuits.”  

Any proposals are currently “still under consideration and discussion,” said Pernia. The idea has already received backing from the Governance Commission. 2018 saw them recommend to President Roderigo Duterte that there should be “separation of commercial and regulatory functions.” 

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