The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) is targeting the launch of its own casino brand,, by the end of this year, according to Alejandro Tengco, chairman and chief executive of Pagcor.

“We are already talking to our possible joint venture partner. In my mind, out of three companies that we’ve talked to, I already have one chosen,” stated Alejandro Tengco. “Maybe within the month of July, I will already [be able to] make an announcement as to who our partner will be,” he added.

Tengco is optimistic that the casino platform will be operational by the last quarter of 2024, assuming no unexpected issues arise and negotiations proceed smoothly. The announcement was made during an interview with GGRAsia at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) Asia in Macau.

The online casino initiative will be a joint venture with a prominent company in the Philippines’ online gaming sector. “It’s not just any company, but I have made a conscious effort that it should be somebody that has a name and is very credible in the online gaming world … so that there’s no more learning curve,” observed Tengco. He emphasized that the creation of Pagcor’s online casino aligns with the agency’s broader strategy, which includes the privatization of its operations.

Pagcor has already initiated an upgrade of its Casino Filipino venues, including the procurement of over 3,000 new slot machines. This modernization is seen as a preliminary step before selling off the Casino Filipino chain. The goal is for Pagcor to cease its operational functions and focus solely on regulatory responsibilities.

“My intention here is, phase one, to privatize all our land-based operations under the Casino Filipino brand, and then, after setting up, move to phase two, the privatization of that online brand,” noted Tengco. The overall privatization process is set to begin “in the last quarter of 2025 at the earliest, or around the first quarter of 2026 at the latest,” confirmed the Pagcor head.

Casino Filipino operates more than 40 branches and satellite casinos in leased venues across the Philippines. “The privatization process of our land-based operations cannot be done overnight,” Tengco explained. “So, while this privatization process of our land-based operations is ongoing, on a parallel side, we plan to start, and hopefully derive good value for it.”

He added that the revenue generated from the online casino would enhance the overall value of Pagcor’s privatization efforts, benefiting both the agency and the Philippines. Asked about a deadline for completing the privatization, Tengco expressed his hope to finalize it by the end of his tenure as Pagcor chairman and CEO, which extends to 2028.

Renovation Works Underway

Tengco also mentioned that agreements have been reached for the renovation of all leased buildings housing Casino Filipino venues, with at least three owners already beginning renovations in different standalone branches.

Pagcor has acquired 1,968 slot machines from RGB International Bhd, a casino equipment supplier and distributor. The total value of the contract is slightly over US$81.3 million, with the new units scheduled for delivery starting in July.

“These slot machines are the same as the machines used by all our integrated resort licensees,” Tengco noted. The order includes electronic gaming machines from various third-party brands: 888 units from Light & Wonder, 888 units from Aristocrat, 150 units from Konami, and 42 units from KL Saberi.

Additionally, Pagcor plans to enhance its gaming table offerings by acquiring a new casino management system. “Once the upgrades and renovations are complete, we expect our casinos to attract more players and guests, plus making our casinos more attractive to potential investors once we start offering them for sale,” Tengco said.

Of the total 3,345 slot machines Pagcor plans to purchase, procurement for the second batch will likely commence “before the last quarter of this year,” Tengco added. He mentioned that the specifics of the privatization process are still being formulated, which may include “assurances of jurisdictional territory,” such as exclusivity rights for a specified period for those who acquire a Casino Filipino branch. “Once we become a pure regulatory entity, you can expect a more dynamic and more lucrative Philippine gaming industry with a more level playing field that promotes fair competition and equitable growth,” he concluded.