Olivarez eyes privatization of gov’t-run casinos

Published September 23, 2022, 11:17 AM

by Jean Fernando

Parañaque City 1st District Rep. Edwin Olivarez is eyeing the privatization of government-run casinos.

Olivares said this after noticing a conflict in the mandate of state gaming firm Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) during a congressional hearing to tackle the proposed budget of the agency.

During the congressional hearing to tackle Pagcor’s proposed budget, Olivarez said the agency is currently acting as a gaming regulator while at the same time operating 45 casinos nationwide, giving rise to conflict wherein Pagcor is supposed to regulate itself.

“The President mentioned during his SONA (State of the Nation Address) about privatization of some government agencies and functions, and perhaps privatizing Pagcor’s casinos should be considered to resolve this conflict,” Olivarez said.

Pagcor Chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco admitted that his office recognizes the apparent conflict and is looking for ways to resolve it.

Tengco also asked Congress for time to study the matter.

Aside from the 45 casinos it operates nationwide, Pagcor regulates at least nine licensed casino operators of which three of these integrated casinos are located at the Entertainment City in Parañaque where Olivarez served as mayor for nine years until June this year.

Olivarez said a fourth casino is slated to open soon at the Entertainment City.

He said most of the other licensees are located at the Clark Freeport in Pampanga and elsewhere in the country.

Olivarez, chairman of the House Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization, pointed out during the hearing that host cities receive very little from the private casino operators while providing nearly all of the social services for the casinos like garbage collection, security and health, among others.

Tengco acknowledged that the private casinos don’t pay any operating fees to the host LGUs, and said his office will look into ways to give local government units bigger shares from the casino revenues.

“This will benefit not only the City of Parañaque but all the host LGUs in our country should this bigger revenue share materializes,” Olivarez said