DESPITE suffering a sharp decline in its revenues due to the suspension of gaming operations, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) still managed to make significant contributions to national coffers and to nation-building amidst the global health crisis.
From a high of P81.97 billion in 2019, the state-run gaming firm’s earnings from gaming operations, regulatory fees and other income dipped to P36 billion in 2020 and P35.48 billion in 2021. This did not prevent the agency, however, from fulfilling its vital obligations and instead ramped up its provision of necessary aid to the government and other beneficiaries.
At the height of strict community quarantine restrictions in 2020 and 2021, PAGCOR remitted a total of P44.53 billion (P21.61 billion in 2020 and P22.91 billion in 2021) to the government through its mandated contributions and other corporate social responsibility programs.
Of these contributions, P29.74 billion went to the Bureau of the Treasury, representing the 50% government share.
The agency’s remittances to the National Treasury include the P60 million annual contributions to the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), an agency tasked to create policies and strategies on drug prevention and control.
Half of PAGCOR’s remittances to the National Treasury are also being channeled to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) to help fund the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law or Republic Act No. 11223. Aside from funding the UHC law, PAGCOR released a total of P990.982 million worth of grants to the health sector during the height of the pandemic.
Apart from the 50% national government share, the state-run gaming firm’s remittances in 2020 to 2021 to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (in the form of franchise tax) totaled to P3.13 billion; P7.64 billion to the Socio-Civic Project Fund of the Office of the President; P1.48 billion to the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC); P22.02 million to the Board of Claims and P147.57 million for cities and local government units hosting a Casino Filipino branch.
PAGCOR likewise paid P289.34 million in Corporate Income Tax, while its cash dividends for 2019 and 2020, released in 2020 and 2021, respectively, reached a total of P23 billion. Said amount comprised the P18 billion cash dividends for 2019; P811.28 million cash dividends for 2020 and P4.18 billion advanced cash dividends that may be applied against future dividends obligations.
The agency also tapped its casino licensees to help fund the government’s fight against COVID-19. Licensed casinos are required to establish foundations for the protection, conservation and restoration of Philippine cultural heritage, improvement of public schools in the country and provision of quality healthcare services.
Hence, through their foundations, the integrated resorts and casinos joined hands with PAGCOR and contributed over P1.1 billion aid to various hospitals, local government units, government offices and communities in 2020. In 2021, these foundations also allocated P902.57 million to COVID response.
Another major project related to infrastructure that PAGCOR prominently undertook amidst the pandemic was the construction of Multi-Purpose Evacuation Centers (MPECs) nationwide.
Since the MPEC project was launched in November 2020, the state-run gaming firm has already released a total of P1.87 billion to kickstart the construction of 73 evacuation centers in various parts of the country.
PAGCOR also unveiled in 2021 the “PAGCOR Village”, a charitable project that seeks to safeguard the living conditions of families displaced by the eruption of Taal Volcano in Batangas in 2020.
A brainchild project of Chairman and CEO Andrea Domingo, the PAGCOR Village – which has a funding of P150 million – was launched on February 18, 2021 and are undergoing construction in the towns of Agoncillo, Lemery, Balete, Mataas na Kahoy and Taal.
The strict lockdowns and temporary suspension of its gaming operations likewise failed to stop PAGCOR from remitting P712.38 million to the PSC in 2020 and P774.99 million in 2021 as part of the government sports agency’s 5% mandated income share from the state-run gaming firm.
On top of these remittances, PAGCOR released a total of P45.19 million in 2021 up to March 2022 for the retirement benefits and cash incentives of athletes and their coaches who brought honor to the country after participating in major international sports competitions.
One of these notable remittances was the P38.50 million cash incentives released by the agency to the athletes who made history after clinching medals in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
PAGCOR also extended aid to other government agencies, non-government organizations, law enforcement agencies, and casino host communities, among others, as part of its COVID-19 response. From 2020 to 2022, the agency released a total of P356.24 million in financial grants to various local government units, state colleges and national government agencies.
The state-run gaming firm likewise released a total P161.30 million at the onset of the pandemic up to the present for the purchase of food and non-food items, which were distributed to calamity victims, community and healthcare frontliners and marginalized communities gravely affected by the lockdowns.