Just under a month ago, Typhoon Noru, or Super Typhoon Karding to those in the Philippines, wrecked parts of Asia. As part of its commitment to serving the community, the Philippine gaming industry has stepped up to provide relief to those areas hit the hardest.
A tattered Philippines flag flies over a flooded town hit by Typhoon Noru. Gaming regulator PAGCOR and casino operators continue to provide needed assistance to cities across the country. (Image: Associated Press)
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and casino licensees have been busy since the typhoon hit on September 21. They have been steadily delivering food and other aid to different areas of the country to assist in the recovery process.
Since the first shipment, the gaming industry has delivered 17,500 “relief packs,” according to the regulator and casino operator. In total, it has spent around $10 million to help communities rebuild.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that at least 38 people died and five are still missing in the northern Philippines after the passage of Typhoon Noru. It left thousands of people in evacuation centers and caused serious damage to infrastructure and agriculture.
The Philippine National Emergency Council reported deaths in the provinces of Rizal, Zambales, Quezon, and Bulacan, all of them on the island of Luzon. It was there that Noru made landfall on September 26 as a “super typhoon.” It arrived with sustained winds of up to 250 kilometers per hour (154 MPH), according to the Philippine meteorological service.
Since then, PAGCOR and its licensees have been busy supporting various communities. By the end of September, they had distributed around 1,500 relief packs to several areas that were hit hardest by the typhoon.
After two more weeks, the gaming sector increased its efforts. In addition to PAGCOR, the Widus Hotel and Casino Clark and the Stotsenberg Foundation, the charity arm of the Stotsenberg Leisure Park and Hotel Corporation, have participated, according to the regulator.
In addition, the Royce Hotel and Casino Foundation, Travellers International Hotel Group, and others have been pitching in.
Talk of PAGCOR Breakup Continues
PAGCOR has been overseeing the Philippines’ gaming ecosystem for years, even as it simultaneously managed its own casinos. For almost as long, there’s been talk of splitting up the company into two separate entities. The idea is to privatize the casino operations.
This is because some view it as a conflict of interest. However, PAGCOR has repeatedly shown that it’s capable of managing both sides. It delivers considerable revenue to the state and communities while keeping the casinos running.
In the first half of this year, PAGCOR had net income of around PHP2.16 billion (US$38.3 million). That’s a 2,600% increase compared to last year. At that time, land-based casinos were closed by COVID-19.
Still, there are those in the government who believe PAGCOR should end its casino operations. The push continued this week when the Philippines’ Governance Commission for Government-Owned or Controlled Corporations renewed its call.
The Manila Bulletin reported that the chairman of the commission, Alex L. Quiroz, reiterated the entity’s position, which it has held since 2018. The final decision rests with Ferdinand Marcos, the country’s new president.
There’s no word on what Marcos may do. He implemented some reforms within PAGCOR two months ago, which could be a hint that he’s not anxious to break the entity in two.