Pagcor stands pat on casino closure

The government gaming firm Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) is standing pat on its decision to close down the Legenda Hotel Casino at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone northwest of Manila, citing the company’s failure since 2001 to pay the government over PHP 365 million in gaming fees, Pagcor spokesperson Edward King said.

„We gave them ample time from 2001 until now,“ King said. „It is their duty to settle with us.“

The failure of hotel group Legend International Resorts Ltd., owner of the casino, to pay the government its equivalent share of the casino’s net income — as prescribed in Legenda’s license to operate — led to the closure of the casino on May 10, King said.

He stressed that Pagcor closed down only the casino and not the hotel.

Legend Resorts is claiming that it has been losing money since 1999 because of the Asian financial crisis.

It also says that on Jan. 31, 1999, it remitted PHP 34.8 million to Pagcor.

In a statement, Pagcor said that in 1999 Legenda „was padding its expenses,“ making it appear that it was losing money.

It said a special audit team discovered that Legenda was charging expenses of its non-casino hotel units to the casino operations, resulting in net losses.

Legend Resorts denied the padding charge and said it had committed no fraud in its financial records.

Pagcor officials said they changed their decision to cancel Legenda’s gaming license only after the casino operator proposed a repayment scheme.

Under the scheme, Pagcor and the Subic Bay Management Authority would receive their respective gaming shares of PHP 5 million a month from Legend Resorts, in lieu of the previous gaming share of 15 percent of the casino’s net income that had to be remitted to the government.

Pagcor also denied reports that over 1,500 workers were on the verge of losing their jobs because of the closure of the Legenda casino.

„The actual number of affected employees is significantly lower than what was reported,“ it said. „There are only about 200 casino personnel; the rest are hotel staff. The Legenda hotel remains up and running and … there is no reason why hotel personnel should also be affected.“