Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) Chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco disclosed the new management’s plans to focus more on PAGCOR’s regulatory role, expand the agency’s reach and contribute more to nation-building.
During the opening of the ASEAN Gaming Summit in Marriott Manila on March 21, 2023, where Tengco was keynote speaker, the PAGCOR chief explained that under his term, the management hopes to privatize the state-run gaming firm’s self-operated casinos nationwide.
Upon its assumption in August 2022, the current PAGCOR Board has been open to talks about privatization but ensured that the welfare of employees who will be affected by such management decision, will be taken into consideration.
Meanwhile, apart from embracing a purely regulatory role, Tengco shared the agency’s plans and programs for 2023, which are geared towards benefiting gaming industry stakeholders, upholding responsible gaming, and contributing to the government’s nation-building efforts.
Among the programs that Tengco discussed were the creation of regulatory frameworks for online poker operations, enhancement of slot machine operations, destruction of outdated gaming paraphernalia and equipment (for suppliers), creation and updating of regulatory manuals such as Junket Licensing Regulatory Manual and Casino Regulatory Manual for licensed casinos.
Also, modernization projects for slot machines in PAGCOR-operated gaming venues, slots information management system and casino management system, as well as PAGCOR’s Technical Standards for Electronic Gaming Machines will also be enhanced.
“As we speak, our Licensing & Regulatory Group has already accomplished projects like the updating of suppliers’ regulatory manual, implementing rules and guidelines for foundations, and crafting of Gaming Employment License regulations on prohibition on enter/stay/play.”
CEO Tengco also mentioned that PAGCOR has already revisited its policies and regulatory frameworks for online gaming after the offshore gaming operations became a subject of public concern last year. He said that monitoring efforts were intensified to ensure lawful compliance by licensees.
“We acknowledge our limitations on the side of enforcement and on our capacity to address illegal gambling, thus we reinforced our partnerships with various law enforcement agencies to address this concern.”
As regards strengthening its regulatory functions, Tengco shared that PAGCOR has forged partnership with various government agencies such as the Department of Justice, Department of Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police, and the National Bureau of Investigation, among others to update and revise the Mutual Cooperation Agreement, whose main objective is to combat illegal gambling, including those that are illegally operated online.
For domestic online gaming, Tengco explained that amendments were introduced to PAGCOR’s regulatory frameworks to foster the growth of both online and onsite gaming.
Tengco also noted that PAGCOR aims to capitalize in the booming industry of online gaming. “We are studying the possibility of regulating other facets of the overseas gaming operations, or the possible regulation of Special Class of BPOs or those who service legitimate operators licensed abroad and amending the processing of penalties imposed on overseas gaming operators and their service providers so as to discourage non-compliance and involvement in any irregular activity.”
Meanwhile for domestic online gaming, PAGCOR plans to conduct an accreditation of payment gateway providers to curb the gray market. The agency also plans to expand its permitted game offerings and products such as eSports, Live Dealer games, Online Horse Racing, and Online Arcade (includes Perya) games to maximize player engagement and entice them to play more.
“Finally, to better regulate the fast-developing and volatile online gaming industry, we aim to revitalize our information technology systems. It is but right for us to level-up on our technological capabilities to be better in our role as gaming regulators,” Tengco explained.
He added that PAGCOR acknowledges the challenge or competition posed by its licensed casinos. “While we may struggle to be at par facilities-wise, I am of firm belief that we do not trail behind in terms of skill set and talent pool. The greatest asset PAGCOR has ever had is its human resource; thus, to capitalize on our people is also part of our vision.”
All these put in place, Tengco said he sees a Philippine gaming industry with better safeguards and controls which address the social ills which come with the conduct of gaming operations.