Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation

PAGCOR chief expresses grief for fire casualties during 2nd ASEAN gaming summit

Wed | March 21, 2018 | 3:10 PM

PAGCOR chief expresses grief for fire casualties during 2nd ASEAN gaming summit
PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Andrea D. Domingo addresses foreign and local delegates during the opening of the 2nd ASEAN Gaming Summit held on March 20, 2018 at Conrad Manila.

While addressing the gaming executives during the opening of the 2nd ASEAN Gaming Summit on March 20, 2018, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Andrea D. Domingo could not help but express her grief over the death of five PAGCOR employees who perished during the fire at Manila Pavilion Hotel and Casino last March 18, 2018.

Domingo said that the past days had been very difficult for PAGCOR after it lost five personnel while one is still in a critical condition. Unfortunately, the number of casualities in said tragic event rose to six when Jennilyn Figueroa expired on the early morning of March 21 after being in a critical state for three days. Figueroa was an Internal Security Staff of Casino Filipino Pavilion.

“In my almost 50 years in government service, this has been the most difficult. The hardest part is talking to the bereaved families why their loved ones died,” Domingo said.

The PAGCOR chief cited that those who perished in the Manila Pavilion fire showed their dedication to the company until the very end. “It was money counting time when the fire broke out. They wanted to secure PAGCOR’s money and property so they told their colleagues to run for safety while they looked for the key to lock the vault. When they were about to leave, the smoke has already enveloped everyone.”

Domingo added that PAGCOR is not just an office for them but a family. “PAGCOR is our home. Those who perished are not just colleagues; they are family and together we work for the country,” she cited.

Amidst the loss, the PAGCOR chief promised to extend all possible help to the grieving families – from hospitalization, burial expenses and provision of jobs to the next of kin. Initially, the agency issued P450,000 to the families of the deceased. Additional financial support like longevity pay and other benefits (Provident Fund) for the bereaved families is also being processed.

Meantime, Domingo also gave updates on the recent regulatory policies that are being implemented by PAGCOR including the moratorium on the issuance of licensees for integrated resort casinos.

“Following the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte, starting January 13, 2018, we no longer accept applications for integrated resort casinos. PAGCOR will only continue to process those with pending applications before this date since they already paid all the fees and completed the requirements,” she announced.

With regard to offshore gaming, Domingo reported that before PAGCOR gave offshore licenses, the Philippines is said to be the center of illegal offshore gambling. “Now, we have 53 offshore licensees with about 153 support service providers for the operators. The one thing that distinguishes PAGCOR from others is that we have a complete assembly here. The operator is based in the Philippines so they can be taxed here, hence the government’s correct share can be collected,” she explained.

Domingo added that offshore gaming operators in the country will have to pass a background check for criminal record and must have the capability to sustain operations. “We made the fees very expensive. An offshore license costs US$200,000 with a processing fee of US$50,000 and US$250,000 cash bond in case they refuse to pay bets that win. By doing this, we wish to eliminate fly-by-night operators. We do not want to get a bad name especially in the anti-money laundering community,” she stressed.

Likewise, the PAGCOR chief said that the state-gaming agency is glad that Philippine casinos are now covered by the anti-money laundering bill because “it makes the legitimate people in the gaming business comfortable while it scares the less desirable people for engaging business in our country.”

“We want gaming to be more of an entertaining activity. But since gaming cannot be prevented, we have to regulate it well and ensure that the revenues derived from this activity will be used for the socio-civic needs of our country,” she concluded.

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