Pagcor cuts 665 jobs from privatized casino | Inquirer Business

Pagcor cuts 665 jobs from privatized casino

Prelude to future disruptions as state gaming firm pursues new direction
/ 02:26 AM January 18, 2024

MANILA  —The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) is laying off over 660 workers from a casino near Manila Bay as it turns over operations to a private sector group—a prelude to future job disruptions as the state gaming regulator moves closer to implementing a decades-old plan to privatize all casinos by the end of 2025.

The Inquirer learned that Pagcor workers in the Casino Filipino New Coast in Malate were informed of the layoffs during a town hall meeting last December. The meeting was led by Pagcor chair and CEO Alejandro Tengco. A source told the Inquirer that employees started to receive their severance pay over the past few days.

“It’s a bit frustrating for us because we lost jobs while they’re saying that the industry is doing well,” an employee told the Inquirer. On Monday, Pagcor announced record high-revenues of over P285 billion in 2023, thanks to recovering land-based casinos and the boom in online gambling.


READ: PH gaming industry posts record-breaking 2023 take


The employees were offered options to transfer to other roles within Pagcor but slots were either limited or the pay was much lower, the source said.

The layoffs were equivalent to roughly 6 percent of Pagcor’s workforce.

Special incentive packages

Tengco told the Inquirer on Wednesday that they complied with labor laws and that special incentive packages were provided to the 665 affected workers.

He also blamed the previous Pagcor board for failing to explain the impact to the workers during their talks with Marina Square Properties Inc. (MSPI). “When we learned of this I scheduled the town hall meetings to explain to them the sad news,” Tengco said.

The layoffs were related to the turnover of casino operations to private license holder MSPI, controlled by Hong Kong-listed International Entertainment Corp., which applied for a casino license during the Duterte administration.

READ: Pogos fewer but sector changing for the better


International Entertainment said in a previous regulatory filing it committed to invest at least $1 billion in the project. The company said the provisional license agreement was signed last Sept. 27, 2023, however, Pagcor had agreed to grant the license “in principle” in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nov. 4, 2020.


Tengco said the letters to Pagcor employees were sent out last Jan. 12 while MSPI will takeover operations of the casino by the middle of February this year.

He admitted that jobs would also be disrupted when they pursue the privatization of land-based casinos in the second half of 2025. This was to allay conflict-of-interest concerns when it comes to regulating the industry while also competing with private players.

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At the same time, Pagcor is keen on growing digital gambling due to its plan to roll out an online version of Casino Filipino in the second half of 2024. Pagcor expects e-casino, e-bingo and digital sports betting revenues to reach nearly P62 billion this year versus over P58 billion in 2023.

TAGS: casino, layoffs, Pagcor

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