Recto seeks Pagcor reform

By Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 20 2012 04:23 PM | Updated as of Jun 21 2012 06:54 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) would earn hundreds of billions of pesos a year once it is turned into a purely regulatory body, according to a senator pushing for a law reforming the agency.

In a statement, Sen. Ralph Recto said Pagcor would earn P250 billion in fresh revenues annually if it is transformed into the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Commission (Pagcom) and the Entertainment City project becomes operational.

Pagcor is expected to draw revenues of 15 percent from high-roller gaming, 25 percent from non-high roller games, and 5 percent from food and beverages at the Entertainment City.

Recto's proposal seeks to remove Pagcor's power to operate casinos.

"We are not abolishing or emasculating Pagcor," said Recto, author of Senate Bill 3187. "We are, in fact, shepherding its return to its main core function, which is to provide regulation over the gaming industry."

Under the bill, Pagcor will focus on issuing licenses to gambling operators and overseeing their operations.

It will stop operating casinos and sell their franchises, the proceeds of which will be remitted to the government.

For Recto, Pagcor could not competently supervise and regulate casinos at present because it is also tied up with operations.

"We're just correcting an anomaly wherein the one given the task to issue casino licenses is also allowed to operate its own outlets. It's tantamount to licensing Count Dracula to run a chain of bloodbanks while giving exclusive accreditation to blood donors," he said.

Recto said revenues from a reinvented Pagcor would enhance support for government projects in infrastructure, education, and health.