New PAGCOR Chief Suggests Privatization of State-Owned Casinos

The new CEO and chairman of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), Alejandro Tengco, has suggested that he will be considering the privatization of the state-owned casinos in the Philippines.

New PAGCOR Chief Voices Ideas Regarding Casino Privatization

The freshly appointed PAGCOR head, Tengco, has made comments that PAGCOR will reconsider its current function as both operators of state-owned casinos and regulator of private casinos in the Philippines.

During a hearing in front of the House appropriations committee, Tengco said that PAGCOR will take the time to consider all options but considering that it needs to define whether it is a regulator or operator, the privatization of the state-owned casinos seems like a very appealing idea.

Just nine days ago Alejandro Tengco was appointed as the new CEO and chairman of the Philippines gambling regulator PAGCOR by president Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., nicknamed “Bongbong”, who won the presidential elections in the country earlier this year.

Tengco’s comments on the privatization of casinos come after the increased pressure from president Marcos and his team for PAGCOR to clearly separate its roles as regulator and operator. On August 29, Benjamin E. Diokno, the president’s finance secretary, made a statement along these lines, which actually tried to push PAGCOR towards the privatization of the state-owned casinos.

It has to be noted that Marcos changed PAGCOR’s head even though at the beginning of July he said no such change was in store.

Tengco Has to Fill Big Shoes

Tengco took over the new post from previous PAGCOR CEO and chairwoman Andrea Domingo who was appointed to the position by former president Rodrigo Duterte back in 2016 shortly after he won the presidency.

It will be tough for Tengco to follow in Domingo’s footsteps as she had a very successful mandate. During the six years of Domingo’s leadership, PAGCOR successfully collected revenues of over PHP300 billion ($5.5 billion) as a result of the adequate implementation of regulatory procedures and practices.

In addition to that, the regulator managed to collect $15 million owed by Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs).

Earlier Ideas on Casino Privatization

The idea of the privatization of state-owned casinos is not new. President Rodrigo Duterte also tried to push PAGCOR towards a casino sale back in 2016 in order to bring some money in the state budget.

An initial sale of 17 state-owned casinos was planned for 2018, but now former PAGCOR CEO and chairwoman Andrea Domingo discarded the plans as it turned out the casinos brought in considerable revenue.

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