The changing character of casinos; Pagcor wins
FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) - November 10, 2018 - 12:00am

Recently, I went to watch the Mamma Mia musical at the theater of Solaire Casino. It is a happy musical and the audience clapped and laughed with the show. But it was not until the end of the show when the audience went wild, waving their hands and dancing with the performers. The theater became a big dance hall. It seemed we were not in a casino at all. Casinos were set apart, with their own enclaves.

Along the way to the theater there were great restaurants. One of them was Yakumi which bring the fish and other seafoods directly from the famous Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo.

On another side of Solaire with its own driveway concierge and elevator was the Sky Tower, recently named by Forbes Magazine as one of the best hotels in the world.

This luxury wing was also built away from the gaming/casino areas and nearer the pool overlooking Manila Bay. All in all the mixture of theater, shopping and games made great entertainment for families.

The Sky Tower has separate entrance, concierge and lobby at Solaire Resort & Casino was included in the Star Rating list of 5-star awardees for the second consecutive year by Forbes Travel Guide and named it as one of the best in the world for its flawless service and phenomenal hotel facilities. Once you step into one of its finest accommodations, you are in for a royal treatment.

We wanted to see the suites which the concierge  referred to as villas because it had its own gym and spa and private gaming table. Most suites showcase the spectacular view of Manila Bay’s breathtaking sunset, while the other rooms feature views of the skyline, which is especially stunning at night. A butler is assigned  to these rooms once the client has booked.

But this is not all that casinos are about. There is a serious side to it.

It makes money from both in interactive resorts like Solaire, Okada, Resorts World, City of Dreams under the regulatory watch of Pagcor and the many  branches and satellite operations id directly manages. I think the public ought to be aware that the money casinos bring in go to nation building.

According to its accountants  Pagcor in its year to date earnings as of Sept. 30, 2018 had a total income of P85.37 billion and compared to last year was 92.07% higher with P40.92 billion compared to last year’s P44.45 billion. The trend is that of increasing revenues from year to year since the new administration has been the pattern.

The total income includes the non-gaming income of P32.71 billion on disposal of PRA lot.

It is not a secret why this is so. The key fact is that the present Pagcor administration’s operating expenses is lower compared to last year’s P10.12 billion by 1.84% or P186.21 million. It is earning more and spending less.

Actual allocation for Contributions to Nation-Building amounted to P37.83 billion surpassing last year’s P29.96 billion by 26.28% or P7.87 billion.

For 2018, a total of P10 billion was already remitted to the socio-civic projects of the Office of the President.

Among the many beneficiaries of well managed earnings are income to fund the establishment of national child development centers. Day care centers have been developed into children development centers in many local government units (LGUs).

It also provides for the protection and conservation of the national cultural heritage, assists sports, athletes among others. Pagcor pays corporate income tax and cash dividends to the national government for several purposes.

All GOCCs are required to declare and remit at least 50% of their annual net earnings as cash, stock and/or property dividends to the national government.

It can be said that gaming and entertainment under PAGCOR earn taxes from wealthy gamblers for the poor especially the socio-civic projects of the President.

Other countries are looking into the growing asset of gambling and entertainment of casinos. Japan, a wealthy country has big plans for the industry to capture customers for their games and entertainment.

So are small, less wealthy countries like Cambodia and Vietnam which are starters. These signal a coming competition on how to use casinos as an asset for economic prosperity.

In that sense, the Philippines is way ahead of the up and coming contest to win in the game of developing both tourism, travel and leisure for nation-building. The financial trends as mirrored by Pagcor’s continuous rise should be encouraged to remain as a leader in the ASEAN countries on how to use money from rich casinos for projects for the larger population’s needs.

In 2019 Manila will be the center of worldwide information on the gambling industry. Many factors were considered in choosing Manila. There are 200,000+ professionals who work and live in Manila, they will be invited to PAGE 2019 (the trade show of the gaming and entertainment industry). It has the advantages that other cities do not have. Compared to other cities in the ASEAN region, Manila is the best choice for the industry trade show in July 2019.

Analysts say that with the “dampened” consumer spending, the changing nature of casinos that embrace both leisure and entertainment it will be a valuable source of funds for improved infrastructure and funds for socio-civic projects. Tax reforms are already on the way to maximize this new source of funds for nation-building.

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