Bill to rename agency as government prepares privatization of Pagcor operations
The Philippine gaming market is poised to undergo major alteration with changing roles for Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), which up until now has been regulator, licensor and operator of gaming halls and casinos. House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has filed a priority bill that would see the PAGCOR become a “purely regulatory” agency, turning over its licensing powers to Congress.
House Bill No. 6514, if passed, would see Pagcor renamed as the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Authority (PAGA) to handle all regulatory functions in the gaming industry, which at present are carried out by bodies in different economic zones in the country. The House games and amusement committee is set to begin hearings on the measure this week.
Under the new bill, all gaming operators will need to secure a legislative franchise from Congress. The bill will also allow for existing licensees to have one year to secure a legislative franchise, or risk their operations becoming illegal. Franchisees would also be subject to a five-percent franchise tax on aggregate gross earnings.
Under the new bill, PAGA would be tasked with collecting franchise fees from holders of legislative franchises; enact harm minimization measures ensuring that only franchisees conduct gaming operations; handle all gaming policy matters, supervision of all gaming operations; and the adjudication of disputes between operators and patrons.
New council for casino privatization
As PAGCOR’s role as gaming operator ends, the government is planning to create a new council to oversee the privatization of casinos and gaming halls operated by the agency. In an interview with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the new team would handle the technicalities in the privatization process of Pagcor-owned casinos.
“We have a Privatization Management Office, but PAGCOR is a special case. It is the licenses that we are privatizing. Its more technical. Quite frankly, we admit it’s more technical than what the PMO can handle,” Dominguez said, adding that creation of the team would need approval of the president. (E-11.28.17)