Senator Win Gatchalian said proceeds from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.’s (PAGCOR) plan to privatize a significant number of its casinos could compensate for any revenue loss that the government will incur from terminating the operations of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) in the country.
PAGCOR recently disclosed a plan to commence by 2025 the privatization of 45 of its casinos which is expected to generate for the government P60 billion to P80 billion in revenue proceeds.
“The plan to privatize PAGCOR casinos could potentially augment government revenues, eliminating the need to impose any additional taxes amid prevailing tight fiscal space,” said Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.
At the same time, the privatization of PAGCOR’s casino operations would also formally decouple its regulatory function from its commercial operations. In previous hearings, Gatchalian has batted for the decoupling of PAGCOR’s regulatory functions from its commercial operations. He emphasized that such move would enable PAGCOR to perform its regulatory functions effectively without any conflict of interest.
The senator pointed out that since PAGCOR profits from POGO operations, it is to their advantage if these POGOs are earning more, which consequently reduces their motivation to conduct thorough oversight on POGO companies.
“Unless PAGCOR relinquishes its commercial operations, it is still in competition with other casino operators in the country,” he said.
PAGCOR has not been able to effectively supervise the industry’s operations, said Gatchalian, citing news reports that it failed to collect P2.3 billion worth of income from POGOs since December 2021, according to the Commission on Audit (COA).
In addition, PAGCOR has also failed to uphold its own rules for POGOs. For instance, the accounts receivable of PAGCOR from POGOs ballooned because of their own failure to implement the Offshore Gaming Regulatory Manual (OGRM) that governs the conduct of offshore gaming operations by the POGO licensees and service providers.