PAGCOR Commended by Duterte

Philippine gaming regulator PAGCOR recently received a commendation from outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte (l.). Duterte praised PAGCOR for its “contributions to nation-building” and its “Covid response efforts.” But another government entity chided PAGCOR for failing to collect more than $42 million in POGO revenue.

PAGCOR Commended by Duterte

On June 16, Alfredo Lim, president of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), accepted a commendation from outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte. Duterte lauded the body for its “contributions to nation-building and to the government’s Covid-response efforts.” The ceremony took place at Malacanang Palace.

In addition to serving as the country’s gaming regulator, PAGCOR also runs its own gaming operations under the Casino Filipino brand.

According to GGRAsia, Lim noted that even at the height of Covid-19 restrictions in 2020 and 2021, PAGCOR added PHP44.53 billion (US$817 million) to government coffers.

“The pandemic may have gravely affected PAGCOR’s revenue generation efforts,” Lim said, “but it did not stop us from responding to the call of service.

“Despite the major decline in our revenues—from PHP81.97 billion (US$1.5 billion) in 2019 to PHP36.0 billion in 2020 and PHP35.48 billion in 2021—PAGCOR still contributed significantly.”

PAGCOR Chairwoman and CEO Andrea Domingo said the agency “released a total of PHP1.13 billion worth of grants to the healthcare sector,” as part of its Covid response.

“When the Universal Health Care Act was signed into law in February 2019, PAGCOR was tapped as funding source,” she said. “Hence, 50 percent of our remittances to the National Treasury are mandated to be transferred to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation at the end of each quarter.

“Aside from this, PAGCOR released a total of PHP1.13 billion worth of grants to the healthcare sector during the height of the pandemic,” Domingo said.

Domingo added that PAGCOR also emphasized corporate social responsibility through the construction of Multi-Purpose Evacuation Centers (MPECs) in disaster-prone areas; relief operations in places where disaster struck; and food caravans for less privileged communities.

President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will be sworn in June 30. Vice President Sara Duterte, daughter of the outgoing president, took her oath of office on June 19. In the past, GGRAsia noted, there has been a change of command among PAGCOR leaders when a new national administration takes office.

On the other hand, the Philippines’ Commission on Audit (COA) revealed that PAGCOR has not yet collected more than PHP2.33 billion (US$42 million) from the Philippines Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) more than a year after it was due. But that is nothing new, according to COA.

“The presence of substantial accounts receivable from POGOs has been a persistent issue for several years,” COA said.

PAGCOR said the revenue in question has been disputed by the POGOs, which is why it hasn’t been collected.

“The affected POGOs, due to the substantial amount of the regulatory fees, filed protest letters on various dates from May 2018 to October 2019. Some of the affected POGOs partially paid while some did not pay the billed amount, hence, resulted to the outstanding balances,” PAGCOR said.

There are currently only 26 POGOs operating legally in the Philippines, down from a high of 63 in 2020.