Philippines to Sell PAGCOR to Fighting Coronavirus Pandemic

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PAGCOR and PCSO might be sold by the Philippine government in order to help the country in the fight with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Offer to Sell PAGCOR and PCSO Announced by Franklin Drilon

The announcement came on Sunday, April 12 by senate minority leader Franklin Drilon. The government could benefit from some PHP300 billion per year from the privatizing the offshore gambling sector, calculations dating back to 2019 suggested.

The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) are two of the state assets that can potentially be sold by the government. The fresh funds from such a sale would be used solely by the government to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 in the country.

Total reported cases of COVID-19 for the Philippines so far are just above 5220 of which 335 patients have died and 295 have already recovered. While those numbers do not sound that high compared to other countries, the coronavirus proved that it should not be taken lightly, which justifies the additional efforts by the Philippine government to secure more money.

Some Ideas Never Get Old

The PAGCOR privatization is not a topic of which we haven’t heard before. Back in 2016, there was a discussion about whether casinos should be operated by private companies and the regulator should turn to its administrative purpose – to regulate the gambling market.

Although it was talked about, the idea was left with no further action once the regulator’s operated casinos started producing high revenue. Back then, Andrea Domingo, CEO of the regulator, said:

I think for the next few years, because they’re still profitable – because the PAGCOR owned and operated casinos, the GGR they yield goes directly to the government, 100%.

Philippine Government Expecting Fast Funds

Although the Philippine government is expecting to have a quick profit of some PHP300 billion by offering to sell the 47 properties of PAGCOR, one cannot say if this would be accomplished without its own set of challenges. In this relation, Drilon noted that:

The government does not have to look far to raise additional revenues. There are ‘low-hanging fruits’ the government can immediately tap to provide the much needed resources for our country to survive this pandemic“.

And while this plan sounds like an easy and fast solution to help the country fight the COVID-19 pandemic, deals of such scale can extend in time, thus missing the time window that needs to be met. Any business deal involves a great deal of paperwork and analysis, let alone selling some of the biggest offshore gambling properties.

Selling any assets by PAGCOR will most likely be a time-consuming process, which makes us believe that the Philippine government is less likely to receive the fast funds which are necessary in the conditions of a global pandemic.

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