The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), is currently in a transitioning period as it ceases to be involved in owning or operating any casinos and becomes a regulatory only government entity. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, issued a new memorandum to PAGCOR licensed establishments stating that any gambling facility caught allowing minors in to their game floors or allowing them to gamble will be subject to closure. It is unclear if a single violation will result in closure or if it would take multiple infractions. The new regulation will go in effect January 1st, 2018 and will could include other provisions as the time draws near.
A fine of PHP 100,000 or approximately $2,000 USD will be imposed on any casino operator that allows restricted people into their casino. The advisory bulletin defines restricted people as government officials, immediate relatives of government officials and anyone on the national database of restricted persons (NDRP).
It’s well known that President Duterte is not a big fan of gambling or drugs as he tried to banish online gambling throughout the country and had seemingly instructed his police department to crackdown on underground gambling networks with the same regards as combating illegal drug rings. Now it seems as if he doesn’t have as tough of a stance against online gamblers. In 2016, he stated “Pay the correct taxes, gamble till you die, I don’t really care.”
It can be a little confusing when trying to figure out President Duterte stance on gambling. Based on first impressions most would think that he has a real problem with online gambling. He won’t allow Filipino residents to gamble online with Filipino licensed casinos and he won’t allow government employees inside any brick-and-mortar casinos in the Philippines. In 2016 he stated, “I am ordering the closure of all online gambling sites, all of them, they have no use.” Not long after that he granted the re-issue of PhilWeb’s licenses to allow e-games and online bingo games for residents over 21. It seems like a lot of back and forth, he wants to rid online gambling for his people but also wants the income from PALCOR issued licenses.
PAGCOR will soon be auctioning off their remaining casinos and the corporation is expected to change their name from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Authority (PAGA). One of the top concerns will be making sure that the companies that take over their casinos will adhere to the new rules to combat problem gambling across the Philippines.
Only time will tell what will become of online gambling in the Philippines, as of now residents can play offshore licensed sportsbooks and legal online casinos accepting Filipino players as long as they are not located or licensed in the Philippines. PAGCOR is changing and so will the Philippines online gambling laws, two maybe three more times, there is no telling with this President.