THE latest news coming out from the Department of Finance is that starting next year the 17 casinos operated by the state run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) will be privatized, meaning it will no longer an operator but merely a regulatory agency. The agency in the first place shouldn't be wearing two crowns - hat of an operator and a regulator at the same time. Based on What DOF Secretary Carlos Dominguez' statements, the casinos in the provinces will go first.
I was in my mid-twenties when I worked in the casinos. High life. Big stakes. Top entertainment. The danger lies when people can no longer control their addiction to gambling. Some don't only lose their shirts, so to speak, but los dear life. If not the life, it is the future. But don't be afraid to go the casinos if you can afford it, and if you have discipline. There are two reasons why gamblers lost their shirts. First, they don't know how to bet. (Meaning, they control their bets, when the house is having a down streak, and bet more when the house is lucky). Second, most players are always victims of their own greed. They don't quit despite having sizeable winnings, thinking they can have more only to discover later they lost everything including their capital.
Casino gambling was introduced by Ted Lewin, an American expat sometime in the fifties. Towards the sixties and seventies the Dewey Boulevard, now Roxas Boulevard, was dotted by casinos. They were strategically located along with the famous night clubs like Bayside, Bulakena and Amihan. The big casinos then were Continental, Ambassador, Chrysanthemum, La Sirena and few more others. Some of the operators were Nicanor “Junior” De Guzman, Carlos Magdaluyo, Ramon Joveros and Rodolfo Ilustre.
Having casinos in the provinces is nothing new. In the seventies a lawyer from Magalang, Lawyer Rogelio Bangsil started his casino business in Olongapo city and expanded in Angeles City in the early seventies. He established Manor Casino when he acquired initially as leased Marisol Manor Hotel in Marisol Subdivision. The group of Trinidad Lazatin established Kontiki Casino along the Macarthur Highway in Barangay Sto. Cristo. Eddie Antonio operated the Oasis Casino at the Oasis Hotel and Rod Feliciano operated the Skyline Casino in Barangay Malabanas. All these casinos ceased operation when then President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law, and including those in Dewey Boulevard. Presently there are new casinos in Clark Freeport today and are properly managed like Royce and Midori.
Looking back, the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation is a state owned gambling corporation established during the time of President Corazon Aquino. Her relatives and friends changed in leadership in running Pagcor. And behind all these appointments was her brother, former Congressman Jose “Peping” Cojuangco. Initially it didn't make good, till the appointment of Alice Reyes as chair and retired air force General Romy David. During their watch, Pagcor started making billions. It also started expanding to other cities in the country, including the two Pagcor-run casinos in Clark Freeport and Barangay Balibago in Angeles City.
Published in the SunStar Pampanga newspaper on September 14, 2017.
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