Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) Chairman and CEO Alejandro H. Tengco discussed the agency’s plans and programs to make the Philippines a leading gaming destination in the ASEAN region.
Chairman Tengco was invited to deliver the Keynote Address on the third day of the G2E Asian IR Summit in Macau on July 13, 2023. In his speech, the PAGCOR chief expressed optimism that with the gaming regulatory reforms which the agency is undertaking, the Philippine gaming industry will be more responsive to the needs of the changing times while addressing the social ills that come with gaming operations.
The Philippine gaming industry started to bounce back as it gradually transitioned into the new normal. Following its mandate to regulate and uphold the integrity of gaming operations in the Philippines, PAGCOR generated P58.96 billion in 2022, an impressive 66.16% year-on-year increase from its P35.48 billion total income in 2021. Net income last year reached P4.45 billion, a 2,000% leap from P203.57 million recorded in 2021.
This achievement enabled the agency to fulfill its other role as the government’s partner in generating revenues for socio-civic programs by increasing its contributions to nation-building from P22.91 billion in 2021 to P34.67 billion in 2022.
In view of PAGCOR’s dual role as operator and regulator, its operations have been the subject of scrutiny by key decision makers and major gaming industry players.
Thus, since its assumption a year ago, the new PAGCOR Board of Directors has started strengthening the agency’s regulatory function and has promoted the privatization of PAGCOR-run Casino Filipino facilities. Such move will allow the corporation to grow and compete in both domestic and international markets through the infusion of new capital and advanced technologies which can facilitate expansions, upgrades and innovations.
“By focusing on its regulatory functions, PAGCOR will be able to avoid the complexities of running two different shows. It can also streamline its processes and create more revenues that will fund more high impact government projects,” Tengco said.
Before PAGCOR gaming venues are privatized, however, they will be upgraded to add value to the properties. Programs include the modernization of Information and Communication Technology and Cybersecurity infrastructure, including its Casino Management System and introduction of the Casino Filipino Online; upgrading of more than 3,000 electronic gaming machines (EGMs); and the updating of PAGCOR Technical Standards for EGMs.
To combat the proliferation of illegal gambling in the country, PAGCOR continuously coordinates with various law enforcement agencies. It has instituted reforms to address the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations which have been recently associated with crime, money laundering and corruption. It has canceled the contract entered by the previous Board with the third-party auditor for offshore gaming operations and has introduced new fees and imposed heavy fines and penalties to Licensees and Service Providers found to be engaged in criminal activities. Furthermore, accreditations were suspended and canceled and Licensees were held responsible for the conduct of their Service Providers.
Despite these, gross gaming revenue of online gaming operations is projected to reach P24 billion by the end of this year, more than double last year’s P11 billion.
Tengco stated, “We shall undertake this painstaking process to weed out the unscrupulous companies and individuals using the PAGCOR license for illegal activities, tainting the name of the whole industry and most especially the Philippines.”
PAGCOR has likewise accredited Gaming System Service Providers for Traditional Bingo, Electronic Bingo, Electronic (eCasino) Games, Sports Betting and E-Billiards. Its licensed casinos were recently allowed to use remote gaming platforms for their live casino games that cater to their registered casino players.
Currently, PAGCOR is studying the possibility of regulating other facets of the overseas gaming operations, or the possible regulation of a special class of Business Process Outsourcing.
Through closed borders during the COVID-19 pandemic, PAGCOR has evolved and continues to adapt to the changing times by licensing new gaming options within its jurisdiction and properly regulating them.
“I know much still needs to be done, but I believe that we are on the right track towards making the Philippines a prime gaming destination in the ASEAN region,” Tengco concluded.