Free medicine for all through Pagcor earnings

FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa - The Philippine Star

Free medicine for all will be a priority of the Duterte government. This is welcome news because it is an important part of health care especially for the poor.

In a speech he said half of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) funds will go to the health needs for the poor. This demonstrates yet again how revenue from gambling is being used correctly. As long as Pagcor regulates the industry the public should acknowledge its benefits.

Pagcor has successfully accomplished its objective of both earning money for the government as well as regulating the industry. The bulk of its earnings go to the socio-civic projects of President Duterte which means that the more Pagcor earns, the more the government can deliver its promises to the poor.

“The medicines will have to be sourced from the money that Pagcor makes, at least a good portion. Maybe half of it,” Duterte said. Other funds will be used to repair hospitals and other health needs. I would like to ensure there will never be a lack of medicines for the people,” he added.

“I will guarantee that I will prioritize medicine for all. I can’t bear to see people holding prescriptions and have no means to buy the medicines,” he said.

“I will use up the Pagcor funds. After all, it came from gambling. I will pour the funds there,” he added.

The President announced plans to use a portion of Pagcor earnings as soon as he was elected President. He promised then his administration will pour funds for health-related projects, including free medicines for poor patients. In 2016 he directed Pagcor to set aside P2 billion for the government’s free medicine project.

Pagcor is both an operator and a regulator. Its job is to maximize earnings for President Duterte’s socio-civic programs particularly on medicines for the poor.

PRRD’s statement that medicine will be free has increased the challenge to Pagcor to increase its earnings. It has done well to fulfill that task.

In the first semester, Pagcor’s income surged over tenfold to P35.79 billion from P3.06 billion in the same period a year ago. It has more than met its P1.39-billion target.

Add to this the sale of the 16-hectare parcel of land in Entertainment City worth P37.3 billion to Bloomberry Resorts Corp. for resort expansion projects.

The sale of the property and the increase in revenue in license fees and casino operations exceeded the group’s target for revenues for health needs of the poor; Pagcor’s gross gaming revenues totalled P33.45 billion in the first half, up 18.3 percent from the P28.27 billion recorded in the same period in 2017 and 9.87 percent above the P30.44-billion target.

The casino operator said it remitted half of its gross gaming revenues or P15.86 billion to the Bureau of Treasury.

Aside from its casinos, Pagcor earns income from shares and license fees from licensed casinos and offshore gaming operations, as well as rental, entertainment, and interest income.

It would be a useful exercise to compare earnings of the different Pagcor administrations to find out why the present one has done so well. Apart from playing games and making money it has been reported it comes third in earnings after Customs and the BIR.

The President’s statement that he will use Pagcor earnings for his program of medicine for all has attracted other countries in our region to do the same.

Whether poor or rich, they see its potential for nation building. Both Cambodia and Vietnam are in and so is Japan to have a wealth creating and well regulated industry. That means competition but figures and manpower available show we are ahead.

Recently Pagcor officials joined ICE London. It is the only B2B gaming event that brings together the international online and offline gaming sectors. They went to look at the outsourcing potential in the European region as a new market.

Tourism is also enhanced with well run casinos that offer other entertainment as well. Casinos are no longer just a place for gambling. It has added family entertainment like shows, shopping stores, restaurants and even parks.

Tourism is encouraged when casinos attract gamblers to try out casinos in different countries both for its attractions and well run services. Both gamblers and non-gamblers go to casinos for fun and entertainment.

Luxury hotels as well as theaters have become necessary to attract visitors. It it is referred to as gambling vacations, where a traveller heads to a certain location with the intention of visiting casinos. It also helps the travel industry with travel agents dedicated to setting up casino trips with hotel and gaming services found in some of the world’s most prestigious casinos.

Casino tourism is the combination of travel and gambling – which has developed into an industry in its own right. Many gamblers will travel to visit their favorite casinos, with a vacation in mind.

Tourism and gambling are the biggest sources of income in Las Vegas in Nevada and Atlantic City in New Jersey, Macau and Monte Carlo as tourism destinations.

Casinos target tourists, establishing entire resorts so players and their families never have to leave their premises. From VIP suites to high-end restaurants, these luxury casino resorts include entertainment and other leisure facilities.

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