PAGCOR Confirms It Will Cease Casino Ops by the End of 2025

Posted on: September 18, 2023, 08:18h. 

Last updated on: September 18, 2023, 11:27h.

An initiative is underway to get the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) out of the casino operations business. The goal is to get it into the role of only regulating the country’s gaming industry, and the initiative is moving forward quickly.

The entrance to the Casino Filipino casino in Cebu City
The entrance to the Casino Filipino casino in Cebu City. PAGCOR has confirmed that it will divest its casino operations by the end of 2025. (Image: DestiMap)

On September 13, during the IAG Academy Summit, PAGCOR Chair and CEO Alejandro Tengco confirmed some of the details of the regulator’s evolution. He sees the implementation of this system as a means to streamline operations and prioritize planning efforts leading to a complete transition by the end of 2025.

PAGCOR’s decision to assume only the regulatory role has been deemed crucial to the proper development of the gaming industry in the Philippines. Tengco believes this step is vital for its mission to promote fair competition and guarantee the development and prosperity of all participants within the ecosystem.

In March, Tengco reiterated PAGCOR’s intention to divest a series of compact public casinos. During that announcement, he expressed the company’s aspirations to generate about PHP80 billion ($1.41 billion) from the sale of the Casino Filipino network.

Split Will Affect Employees

The push to turn PAGCOR into a regulator-only entity has been on the table for years, but never made significant headway until now. There have been increased calls for action lately in light of several high-profile scandals involving gaming companies and human trafficking, and PAGCOR has no option but to respond.

The split will have some consequences for PAGCOR’s workforce, however. Tengco explained in his recent address that the decision to transition to an exclusive administrative role may have an unfavorable effect on the workforce. To mitigate any potential repercussions, PAGCOR is trying to develop plans for those employees who may be displaced subsequent to casino privatization.

Tengco added that PAGCOR is significantly enhancing its organizational framework and operational methods. This, he asserted, will help it “become the gold standard in the Asian gaming scene,” and give the Philippines a competitive edge in the global gaming space.

PAGCOR to Increase Gaming Oversight

The goal of the divestiture is to give PAGCOR a greater chance of appropriately monitoring the gaming space. It’s not waiting until 2025, though, and is already making big changes.

The regulator said during the same IAG Academy Summit last week that starting December 31, slot machine providers in the Philippines will face stricter accountability. All games they submit for approval will have to show compliance with the new Technical Standards for EGMs Version 1.1.

All noncompliant games will be forbidden from distribution in the Philippines as of next June. However, this only applies to new games. Existing games that don’t meet the new technical standards, but which are already in casinos, will be exempt.

The standards are similar to those Macau introduced almost a year ago, including the requirement that slots be equipped with timers. There is also a requirement that a slot’s “program or logic area” — the brains of the machine — carry a “tamper” seal to prove that no one has manipulated the equipment.

All machines will additionally have to be spill-resistant. Another requirement makes it mandatory for the machines to record and be able to display the last 100 events, such as spins, payouts, and more.

The new rules take effect on Jan. 1, 2024.