Philippine House Speaker pushes for amendment to PAGCOR charter

  • Pantaleon Alvarez wants the removal of PAGCOR’s regulatory functions over casinos
  • New proposal would require casino operators to get congressional franchises.

Filipino media and entertainment group ABS-CBN reported that Philippine house speaker Pantaleon Alvarez opened the second regular session of the 17th Congress on Monday by pushing for an amendment of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation’s charter (PAGCOR).

The amendment that Alvarez specifically wants changing is the removal of PAGCOR’s regulatory functions over casinos and in turn require casino operators to get congressional franchises.

Pantaleon Alvarez: Photo by the Philippine Star.
Pantaleon Alvarez: Photo by the Philippine Star.

House clearly divided

Alvarez put the proposal to 296 members of the House of Representatives with many in the house divided in opinion.

Alvarez’s had some harsh words for PAGCOR saying “the current chaotic setup of PAGCOR doesn’t make sense.” And that his proposed move would “make certain that the public’s interest will always be protected.”

Whilst adding: “This will make certain that their applications are scrutinized deeply. Only the deserving will be allowed to operate,”

However, the opposition have been quick to respond with Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin reportedly saying “The legislative agenda of the Speaker reeks of protecting vested interests and consolidating power over grant of franchises to Congress,” (Reported by Rappler).

He is not the only one to feel the same way with Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr saying: “it will be a conflict of interest for many legislators who are connected to business interests in gambling.”

How it currently stands

Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation or PAGCOR for short is a government-owned and controlled corporation which initially entered into a contract with the Philippine Casino Operators Corporation (PCOC) for the operation of the floating casino in the Manila Bay in 1977.

In 1979, PAGCOR turned their attention to land based casinos and now the firm operates a host of its own casinos and oversees and regulates privately-owned casinos as well as over 180 bingo parlours and e-game cafes throughout the Philippines.

As PAGCOR sits under the office of the President of the Philippines, the organisation acquired legislation act 9487 in 2007 which enabled the firm 25 years to regulate and operate games of chance, the ability to issue licenses, and the opportunity to enter joint venture, management, or investment agreements with private entities for the Entertainment City in the Manila Bay area, Paranaque and in Newport City.

OUR VERDICT

Alvarez claims that PAGCOR has too much control saying: “An entity that has this power runs the risk of dealing itself a favourable hand while undercutting others,” and although it remains to be seen whether Alvarez has a vested interest in the gambling sector, one is assured, this I set to rumble on for a long time before an outcome is declared.

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