Last Sunday, Philippines Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon suggested that the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) should be sold off to create revenue to combat the spread of the Coronavirus.
The request from Drilon demonstrates how dire the COVID-19 situation is in the Philippines, as the entity ranks third behind revenue and customs on the list of biggest money generators for the country.
“[T]he government does not have to look far to raise additional revenues. There are low-hanging fruits the government can immediately tap to provide the much-needed resources for our country to survive this pandemic.”
Philippines Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to sell off government assets if resources to fight the spread of Coronavirus dry up, according to CNN Philippines. On Sunday, PH Vice President Leni Robredo indicated that the rush to sell off government-owned properties is not needed and that there is still money remaining in reserve from 2019 that can be used.
Also suggested for sale by Drilon is the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). This entity provides lottery games and sweepstakes, and the proceeds that it collects enhance national health services and medical programs, and refills the coffers of charitable organizations.
With the PSCO so closely tied to the integrity of the nation’s health support structure, can an outside party be trusted to ensure that these financial avenues remain intact? That may just be a bet that the Philippine people aren’t willing to make, despite the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dating back to 1975, the gambling laws in PH have supported the country’s economy favorably for 45 years. The suggestion to sell their gaming entities needs lengthier consideration. It is a decision that cannot be made flippantly.
The question that no one has asked thus far is, why would the country consider selling off the PAGCOR and PCSO if they are still bringing money into the country. The situation may be dire, but current economic downfalls do not provide a seller’s market.
The corporations or governments interested in bidding on these PH entities will likely put forth lowball offers, with the winner reaping the financial benefits for generations to come. This is not a decision that can be made hastily, even if lives are on the line.
The Philippines does not allow for online gambling but has not included language that prevents potential online players from wagering with an offshore entity over the internet. If PH were to sell off the PSCO and PAGCOR, 100% of the money spent on wagering in-country would be to the benefit of another nation or corporation.
The government has other options on the table to consider selling, such as their state-run golf courses, before liquidating their gambling entities. During these unfavorable economic times, rash decisions cannot be made that negatively impact the future.
Although it has recently been reported that COVID-19 is costing PAGCOR millions of dollars per month, wisdom must provide the microscope for which we analyze the cost-benefit analysis. PAGCOR has been bringing in solid revenue for decades and will return to form once this pandemic subsides.