In an effort to help slow the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus inside the Philippines, PAGCOR – the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation – has ordered the immediate closure of all land-based casinos located within the National Capital Region (NCR), or Metropolitan Manila.
These include standard PAGCOR venues, licensed casino resorts, brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, electronic gaming parlours, bingo halls, slots venues, and poker clubs. Essentially, all physical retail gambling is currently on lockdown in the country’s largest market.
For the sake of clarification, this rule has no exceptions. The following cities and municipalities have all seen immediate cessation of public gambling across the board:
- Quezon City
- Las Piñas
- San Juan
The closures will remain in effect until at least April 14, which coincides with the tentative end of the Metro Manila quarantine.
According to PAGCOR, the gambling suspensions are necessary during the current crisis.
“This measure is intended to ensure the safety of both gaming employees and customers and eventually, the general public.”
Interestingly, the government mandate does not apply to farther-flung cities and districts outside of the NCR, though it is likely that gambling venues there will close as the virus spreads to those regions.
Perhaps more importantly, the casino closures also don’t apply to POGOs, or Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators. POGOs are domestic online casino businesses that serve non-native clientele outside the Philippines – namely in China.
Since the Wuhan coronavirus – or COVID-19 – was first unleashed upon China, Chinese gamblers have flocked to POGOs in the face of their own casino closures in Macau and their social distancing and quarantine protocols.
Online casinos, it seems, are not only desirable to the public, but they’re proving to be a certified public health necessity.
Unfortunately, the Philippine government has not taken this opportunity to expand POGO access to its own people, leaving many avid gamblers with nothing to pass the time during mass market closures and self-quarantine practices.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t gamble during the outage, which is a potentially very positive thing.
As an entertaining activity, gambling can increase morale and decrease the stress associated with the major cancellations and home restrictions taking place. Such a reduction in stress and isolation can increases one’s chances of resisting COVID-19.
So how can you gamble online legally and safely during your cities’ quarantines and shutdowns?
It’s simple: Just sign up for an online casino account at an operator like BetOnline, Intertops, 5Dimes, SportsBetting, or MyBookie. These sites all accept Filipino bettors, and they each offer hundreds of real-money table games and slots. They’ve also got poker tournaments, sportsbooks, and racebooks to enjoy.
If you’re going to be stuck at home, you may as well be enjoying yourself and winning a few bucks at the same time.
That said, the sportsbooks themselves may not be much use to most Philippine bettors, as both the NBA and PBA have delayed their seasons, and sports leagues across the world have cancelled or paused their 2020 campaigns.
While a few leagues are still up and running, the market has slowed considerably for the time being.
If you’re worried about legality when using the above Internet-based venues, don’t. These online casinos and sports betting sites operate outside of Philippine jurisdiction, and they are safe to use.
As opposed to POGOs, which operate inside the Philippines and are thus subject to the nation’s laws and local access restrictions, offshore casinos remain unaddressed by the local government and have been legally serving Philippine gamblers for years without incident.
There has never been a better time to sign up for an account at one or more of these legal online casinos.
Like governments and media outlets around the world, you should never let a crisis go to waste!