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Fiona Simmons February 3, 2023 3 min read
PAGCOR Poised to Return to Pre-Pandemic Results, Says CEO
As the regulator and operator of gambling venues in the Philippines is coming under heavy criticism, PAGCOR remains confident in its future performance
Commenting on the latest results, PAGCOR chairman and chief executive, Alejandro Tengco, suggested that the gambling industry in the country could see a return to its pre-pandemic levels before long, and possibly this or next year, although no specificity on the timeline was offered.
The Worst Is Behind, Economic Boon Is Ahead
Tengco spoke in the context of the regulator’s latest financial results for the full year of 2022. During the reported year, the company saw a significant boost in its overall revenue, notching up a 66.2% growth year-over-year.
Revenues stood at close to $1.10 billion (PHP59 billion) with a 68.7% increase in income from gambling operators – roughly $1 billion (PHP55.1 billion) according to the official report. The markedly better performance throughout 2022 was not a chance thing either.
The Philippines embarked on a long and sinuous road to recovery, which involved taking risks and ensuring that the economy was prepared take a new spike in infections. That is why the Philippines restored international travel in February and lifted most of the remaining COVID-19 measures throughout March and April.
Mask mandates were finally struck down by the country’s new president, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, in the fourth quarter. Tengco noted that PAGCOR is hardly the only Asian gambling hub to have experienced a rebound, noting that Singapore and even Macau have also made a strong recovery.
But a full recovery has still not been achieved. Tengco noted that the removal of lockdowns has dramatically improved revenue as well as boosted growth and realized pent-up demand, which are the main levers of gambling operations in the country. PAGCOR reported that it had contributed $641 million (PHP34.7 billion) during 2022 towards the state coffers, making it one of the biggest taxpayers in the country.
Conscientious Taxpayer but Targeted by Politicians
Yet, for all the good PAGCOR has been doing for the treasury, the regulator has been targeted by politicians insisting that the current model does not work and that casinos in the country ought to be privatized and run by private companies, which would result in a boost to the central government’s budget through tax collection and job creation.
While revenue contributions have been consistent, PAGCOR has faced other issues. Crime is a perennial problem, for example, with Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators the main emanators of such issues. PAGCOR has vowed to crack down on any offenders in a bid to restore public trust in its ability to bring down rogue operators.
Illegal POGOs have been the source of diplomatic tensions and domestic criticism that PAGCOR is now keen to rectify. The integrity of operations of the gaming industry remains a top priority, the regulator assured.