The Philippine government is considering privatising the nation's chain of casinos, President Benigno Aquino III said Friday, according to reports on the Agence France Presse news service.
The president has directed that a full review of the books of the 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 6-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.
The 41-casino chain reported a 2008 net income of P29.62 billion ($640 million).
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.
In a separate interview, former PAGCOR chairman Ephraim Genuino noted that the move could affect up to 13,000 employees.
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