The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) has lifted the moratorium on new casino operations, ending the more than three-year policy rooted in President Duterte’s previous stance against gambling.
Andrea D. Domingo, Pagcor chairman and chief executive officer said Friday, Aug. 27, that President Duterte lifted his ban against the licensing of new casinos, which was imposed by the gaming regulator in early 2018.
To recall, Pagcor stopped accepting new casino applications in January 2018 after President Duterte raised concerns about their “proliferation.”
However, the president reversed his previous pronouncements against gambling, saying his administration needs now money from casinos to raise revenues amid the prolonged pandemic.
“It was the President who imposed the moratorium in 2018. Now that he has lifted it, we will implement a new policy,” Domingo said hours after the President in a public address encouraged the building of a casino hub in Boracay Island.
Pagcor had pushed for the easing of the moratorium on new land-based casinos. In a report by Bloomberg in Jan. 2019, Domingo wanted to meet the President to persuade him to “implement a selective ban” on the issuance of new gaming licenses.
In his fourth State of the Nation Address, President Duterte had lauded Pagcor for contributing P16-billion in revenue to state coffers. He also urged Domingo to encourage more gaming.
Pagcor, the government’s third largest revenue generating agency, saw its revenue from gaming operations dropped 20 percent in the first six-months this year to P14.77 billion.
The end-June gaming income was also below by 13 percent against the P17 billion target.
On Thursday, Aug. 27, Domingo said that gaming business may likely recover in the latter part of next year year should all border restrictions, including the ban on foreign tourists, are relaxed.
For 2021, Pagcor expects revenues to hit P35 billion to P38 billion, an improvement compared with P30 billion last year.
However, Pagcor’s revenue forecast this year is still way below its pre-pandemic collection of about P80 billion.
Amid the ongoing crisis, Pagcor is relying mostly on online operations, such as Philippine offshore gaming operations, e-sabong, e-games, e-bingo and the junket and e-junket operations, Domingo said.