Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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POGOs and PAGCOR privatization questioned in senate hearing

A special team from the Philippines’ Commission of Audit (COA) will act as a “stop-gap” auditor for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) as the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR) has yet to hire a new third-party auditor. This comes as PAGCOR lost some PHP2.2 billion ($38.68 million) in tax from one single POGO which operated for just eight months. The group also aims to privatize its casinos by 3Q25 “at the earliest”.

The news was announced by the operator and regulator’s Chairman and CEO, Alejandro H. Tengco during a House Committee on Appropriations hearing on Monday.

During the hearing, Tengco was again questioned on whether POGOs should be shut down entirely, responding that all POGOs had been placed under probationary status, having until September 15th to reapply or have their licenses revoked entirely.

“This is a one one-strike policy and that if they will continue to be involved in the illegal activities such as credit card scams, crypto-investment scams, love match scams, I will recommend the closure of the industry,” noted Tengco, according to reports.

Privatization of Casino Filipino

During the hearing, the PAGCOR Chairman noted that the group was aiming to start privatizing the 45 casinos it operates under the Casino Filipino brand by the third quarter of 2025 “at the earliest”, noting that he was aiming to “increase the value of what we will privatize”.

The group has targeted proceeds from the sale of between PHP60 billion and PHP80 billion ($1.06 billion – $1.41 billion) for the sale, aiming to improve the casinos before their eventual sale.

A separate estimate by a Philippine senator placed the possible sale value at between PHP120 billion ($2.11 billion) and PHP138 billion ($2.43 billion).

Tengco stated “there’s no stopping it”, in regards to the privatization, citing the greenlight from the nation’s president.

Some senators opposed the privatization plan, citing PAGCOR’s recent results and expectations for further growth. During the first half-year, three-quarters of PAGCORs income came from IRs and licensees, while 25 percent came from its self-operated casinos.

Tengco justified the sale as ensuring the separation of PAGCOR’s regulatory and operational functions. “It is clear that PAGCOR should purely be a regulator,” the Chairman said during the hearing.

The PAGCOR head also noted that he was consulting the Department of Finance on whether it would remain a government-owned and -controller corporation (GOCC) once the casinos are sold. GOCCs pay out at least 50 percent of their profits to the nation’s Treasury to fund government projects.

Kelsey Wilhelm
Kelsey Wilhelmhttps://agbrief.com
Kelsey Wilhelm is a broadcast, print journalist and editor based in Asia for over 15 years. Focused on content creation, management, cross-cultural exchange and interviews for multi-lingual productions. Writing focus on gaming, business, politics, culture and heritage, events and celebrities, subcultures, music, film, art and fashion. Some of Kelsey's specialties are: editing, writing, copy creation, multi-lingual content production, cross-cultural exchange, content creation and management for Asian markets.

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