The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) is embarking on a significant transformation as it begins its transition to become a “purely regulatory” body. This strategic shift is expected to pave the way for the privatization of Pagcor’s gambling operations.
Pagcor CEO Alejandro Tengco announced this transformation, emphasizing that it aims to “level the playing field” within the industry while fostering future growth and viability among other operators.
Currently, Pagcor operates the Casino Filipino chain of casinos, with eight properties active across the Philippines. In July, Pagcor also revealed its plans to enter the online gambling market with the forthcoming launch of a new website, Casinofilipino.com, scheduled to go live in the first quarter of 2024.
In addition to its role as an operator, Pagcor has been responsible for regulating the gambling market in the Philippines and issuing sanctions against unlicensed and illegal activities.
This transition follows hints earlier this year from Tengco, who expressed the intention to spin off Pagcor’s casino business to a private bidder. He also outlined plans to expand the organization’s reach and continue its nation-building programs.
Tengco reemphasized these plans in July, citing the desire to “avoid the complexities of running two different shows.” In his most recent announcement, Tengco indicated that Pagcor aims to complete the transition by 2025.
“We have started preparing for this transition in earnest,” Tengco stated. “We’re starting where it matters most – within Pagcor itself. We certainly know our potentials and capability to become the gold standard in the Asian gaming scene.”
However, Tengco acknowledged that the shift to a purely regulatory role could have an impact on Pagcor’s staff. While he did not discuss potential job losses, he assured employees that plans are being developed to mitigate any potential displacement, especially at the casinos slated for privatization.
“We have been going around the country during the past few months, holding town hall meetings with our employees,” Tengco noted. “We tell them there is no reason to worry because we have plans in place to mitigate, if not totally avoid, any personnel displacement. You will be surprised to know how people react to our plans and how they express their trust in our process.”
Tengco also revealed that Pagcor is making adjustments to its corporate structure, business processes, and procedures to enhance its responsiveness and competitiveness as a regulator. Transition plans include consolidating into a single corporate office and modernizing existing casinos to make them more attractive to potential buyers.
This transformative move by Pagcor comes after the regulator introduced a new regulatory framework for offshore gaming licensees in August, as part of efforts to combat illegal offshore activities in the Philippines. Licensees and service providers were required to reapply for approval from Pagcor to continue operating in the country before the September 17 deadline. Operators and providers operating illegally will not be considered for new licenses.
In addition to these changes, news emerged this month linking Tengco and other current and former Pagcor personnel to a case related to a missing performance bond from July 2022. Charges were filed by Joaquin Sy, chairman and chief finance officer of Kamura Highlands Gaming and Holdings, which is licensed by Pagcor for online betting on live cockfighting events. Tengco has pledged to investigate the allegations surrounding the missing performance bond.