PAGCOR is undergoing a comprehensive upgrade, according to Daniel Cecilio, General Manager of the Licensing and Regulatory Group. The group is pushing to privatize its self-operated casinos and apply new reforms, from showrooms for suppliers, to gaming employment licenses and a restructuring of the operator itself, aiming to continue the Philippines’ robust gaming success.
Please find the transcript below:
It is an honor for me to be once again invited as keynote speaker in this prestigious conference, whose participants include the movers and shakers of the gaming industry, both here and abroad.
This year’s ASEAN Gaming Summit is a testament to the gaming industry’s flexibility, adaptability, and resilience amidst the numerous challenges that the world faces today.
Looking back at last year’s ASEAN Gaming Summit at Shangri La Hotel, there were a number of challenges that the gaming industry was facing at the time.
There was the geopolitical crisis that sparked between Russia and Ukraine. That was February 2022, where fuel prices surged, and economies of most nations bore the brunt of this uncertainty.
At the height of the pandemic in 2020, the Philippine gaming industry was not spared, as it saw significant, all time declines in gross gaming revenues.
And just as the Philippines was slowly recovering from the street community quarantine restrictions, the Omicron variant caused a huge surge in COVID cases in the first quarter of 2022. Again filling up hospitals and disrupting businesses. And yes, if I may add, as of July 2022, the new PAGCOR board of directors have yet to be appointed by the newly installed national government.
But amidst all these challenges, the Philippine gaming sector remained resilient. In fact, in 2022, the total industry GGR was 214 billion pesos, that is about $4.3 billion, an 189 percent increase compared to it’s PHP113 billion, or $2.3 billion in 2021.
This is also 8 percent compared to the 2019 pre-pandemic GGR of PHP256 billion, or $5.1 billion.
As both the Philippines and the global gaming market continue to get back on their feet, we are hopeful that this year is a time for bouncing back. A time to re-evaluate our strengths, areas for improvement and our ability to continuously adapt to the changing needs of our times.
In PAGCOR, the thrust of the new administration is the modernization of both its operations and its regulatory functions.
Yesterday, you have heard Chairman Alejandro Tengco speak of his vision for PAGCOR. And we at PAGCOR fully support that vision.
To be able to achieve that vision, PAGCOR has to modernize.
In line with this, among the things that have been completed and are in the process of completion are the following:
-An updated suppliers regulatory manual, one of the highlights of which, is the provision for the establishment of showrooms for suppliers to showcase their latest products. We already have an updated implementing rules and guidelines for licenses.
-Regarding the reallocation of percentages for focus areas. There is already an updated regulatory policy on the gaming employment license particularly on the rules on entry, stay and play.
-We are working on upgrading our IT systems. This one is a priority project as PAGCOR cannot possibly improve its processes without any enhancement in the area of Information Technology.
-Training and upgrading of skills of PAGCOR’s human resources are being addressed.
-There is an ongoing restructuring in our organization to better improve our services.
-Likewise, we are also in the process of crafting the regulatory framework for online poker operations.
-We are in the final stages of creating the junket licensing regulatory manual.
-Also, in its final stage is the updated PAGCOR technical standards for electronic gaming machines. Once finalized and approved, these technical standards shall be used as one of the requirements for all EGM manufacturers and casino operators prior to importation and deployment of these machines on the gaming floor.
In addition, let me iterate what our chairman mentioned yesterday, that PAGCOR is seriously looking at the privatization of its own gaming operations. But let me emphasize PAGCOR will be doing this with the intent and welfare of our employees in mind.
I must mention that in all these things that we are currently doing is the assurance that we work always in collaboration with the industry stakeholders. Moving forward, I believe that despite all the challenges that we are facing, the gaming sector can still blaze a trail and create opportunities.
By adopting new technologies and new ways of doing things, we can forge new paths.
As for the Philippine gaming industry, we can explore new markets, both here and abroad, provided that our regulatory policies are in place, and that we maintain transparency.
As our situation calls for a shift in our business models, and strategies, PAGCOR will continue to ensure that regulatory policies, anti-money laundering laws, and responsible gaming practices are strictly observed.