The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) has announced its plans for the privatization of state-run casinos, with a target completion date within the next two years.

Alejandro H. Tengco, Chairman and CEO of Pagcor, confirmed that the organization is currently in the process of transitioning from its dual role as both operator and regulator to functioning solely as a regulatory body, The Manila Bulletin reported. This strategic shift is aimed at leveling the playing field and ensuring future growth and viability for all players in the gaming industry.

“We have started preparing for this transition in earnest, and we are starting where it matters most – within Pagcor itself,” Tengco was quoted as saying in the report.

The transition to a purely regulatory role may have implications for some staff members. To mitigate this, Tengco mentioned that Pagcor is actively working on plans to prevent displacement, especially in Pagcor-operated casinos slated for privatization. Town hall meetings with Pagcor employees across the country have been conducted in recent months to address these concerns.

“We tell them there is no reason to worry because we have plans in place to mitigate, if not totally avoid, any personnel displacement,” Tengco said.

In line with the transition, Pagcor is making essential adjustments to its corporate structure, business processes, and procedures to enhance responsiveness and competitiveness. Part of the strategic plan includes consolidating operations into a single corporate office to improve coordination, efficiency, and overall performance. Additionally, Pagcor intends to modernize its existing casinos to attract more players and make its assets more appealing to potential buyers.

Tengco also highlighted Pagcor’s commitment to combating illegal activities associated with the gaming industry. The agency has introduced new regulations for international gaming licensees, with the goal of reducing or eliminating illicit activities.

Prior to the auction block, Pagcor plans to modernize the digital security and technology infrastructure of its Casino Filipino facilities. This modernization effort will focus on enhancing the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Cybersecurity infrastructure to increase the value of Casino Filipino properties before their privatization as gaming venues.

This development comes in the wake of a series of recent measures and advisories issued by the organization to strengthen sector regulation. Recently, Pagcor advised the public to stay alert due to the rise of unlicensed online gaming websites using the PAGCOR logo to mislead users.

Last month, the regulator said it is initiating legal proceedings against 33 offshore gaming license holders, including some who have left the country, for unpaid fees amounting to P2.02 billion ($35.8 million at current exchange rates).