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Philippines may privatise casino industry: Aquino

MANILA, Friday 16 July 2010 (AFP) - The Philippine government is considering privatising the nation's chain of casinos, President Benigno Aquino said Friday.

Aquino said he had ordered a review of the books of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), owner of the sole franchise to run casinos, ahead of a potential sell-off.

"If at some point in time we can do away with having the government be the operator and the regulator, that will be a good direction," Aquino, who began his six-year term two weeks ago, told reporters.

Aquino said he had no timeframe for privatisation, partly because the government needed to determine if there were any irregularities within Pagcor and then remedy them.

"If you were to sell a car, you would want to ensure it is in running condition first," he said. "Unfortunately, we are still in the process of finding out what the problems are."

The 41-casino chain reported a 2008 net income of 29.62 billion pesos (640 million dollars).

Under the terms of its franchise, half of Pagcor's income goes straight to the national budget, with the balance going to host cities, a fund controlled by the president's office and on various taxes.

Aquino said the review would look at whether the income had been going to the legal beneficiaries.

MySinchew 2010.07.16


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