The Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport is a region in the province of Cagayan (northern Luzon). This Philippine gambling region is located some 350 miles north of Metro Manila, and it’s a solid destination for anyone looking to play a few games without having to travel too far south. However, the casinos in the Cagayan Special Economic Zone are not on par with the major Metro Manila casinos like those in Entertainment City.
The Cagayan Freeport is more geared toward the local gambling market rather than the tourist gambling market. Of course, with legal online gambling in the Philippines, residents seeking casino gambling in the Cagayan Valley, specifically in Freeport, have more options than ever to bet – and win – real money. Read on to learn about all the different ways you can play for keeps in 2023.
What Is The Cagayan Special Economic Zone?
The Cagayan Special Economic Zone – technically called the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZFP) – is a “self-sustaining” industrial and trade center in northern Cagayan. This special economic zone (there are several in the Philippines, commonly referred to as “freeports” or “freeport zones,” i.e. the Clark Freeport Zone) is tasked with building up northern Cagayan into a major commercial district.
All developments and business licenses in the CSEZFP are overseen by the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA).
The region specializes in the financial technology (fintech) industry and – as you probably guessed – the gambling and tourism markets. In particular, the Cagayan Economic Zone has been a leader in the nascent Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) market.
Now, when it comes to gambling specifically, the Cagayan Freeport answers to two Philippine agencies: the CEZA and PAGCOR. In general, the CEZA has a wide berth to regulate the Cagayan Economic Zone’s brick-and-mortar and online casino industries. However, PAGCOR (the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation) is still in charge of operations from an administrative standpoint.
2023 Update: Private property developer Northern Star Gaming & Resorts, Inc., has partnered with CEZA to build the Crypto Valley of Asia (CVA) development. The CVA is designed to promote cryptocurrency-based fintech markets. Given the brand involved, this could also one day open the door to Philippine Bitcoin gambling and other crypto gambling opportunities at the domestic level.
Is Casino Gambling Legal In Cagayan Freeport?
Yes. Casino gambling is legal in Luzon and throughout the other Philippine islands, and the Cagayan Freeport’s “special economic” status doesn’t change the status quo. As long as you’re at least 21 years old and meet the minimum income requirement mandated by Philippine gambling law, you can play at any of the gambling hotspots in the area. As of 2021, you can also legally play online casino games hosted by domestic Philippine casino venues (21+).
However, gambling in the Cagayan Freeport has long centered on the POGO industry. That is, there are dozens of offshore gambling operations headquartered in the region.
While POGOs are hosted in the Philippines and are regulated by PAGCOR, the games and gambling products they provide are strictly restricted to players outside of the Philippines (mostly geared toward online gamblers from mainland China).
Luckily, locals don’t need POGOs to gamble online, as they can access similar Philippine offshore casinos that cater to Filipino players. We recommend several such sites in our Philippine online casino reviews, all of which are as safe and legal to use as any brick-and-mortar venue in the Cagayan Economic Zone.
Cagayan Special Economic Zone Casino Destinations
The Cagayan Economic Freeport Zone covers the entirety of Sta. Ana, along with the Fuga, Barit, and Mabbag islands in Aparri. As such, the casinos operating within those regions are under the jurisdictions of CEZA (direct, secondary) and PAGCOR (indirect, primary). The casinos listed in the section below are those currently up and running in these regions.
Note: This list does not include all Philippine gambling venues in the area. Among the common gaming retailers not included may be various Philippine poker room and card room venues, E-Games parlors, and Philippine lottery retailers. Additionally, we have not included POGO operations here, as POGO services are not available to Filipino gamblers.
- Cagayan Holiday and Leisure Resort (formerly Sun City Casino) – Sta. Ana
- Eastern Hawaiian Casino And Resort – Sta. Ana
- E-Games Sta. Ana (aka Cool Games) – Sta. Ana
- Hawkplay Casino – Sta. Ana
- E-Games Tejeron/Sampaguita – Sta. Ana
Note: The Cagayan Holiday and Leisure Resort and the Eastern Hawaiian Casino are the top tourist-style casino hotels in the Cagayan Freeport Zone. These feature casino gambling as well as amenities such as live entertainment, fine dining, villa-style lodgings, and resort-style swimming pools.
Domestic Casinos In Cagayan Special Economic Zone
As you can see, there are only two noteworthy Philippine hotel casinos in the Cagayan Special Economic Zone. While future projects and developments promise to expand this list, these are the area’s top destinations for gaming enthusiasts as of 2023.
That being said, you aren’t limited to these venues if you live in the region. Back in 2021, the government legalized iGaming in the Philippines (aka legal online casino gambling), primarily as a “safety net” to combat pandemic-related quarantines, shutdowns, etc. across the gaming industry. With the COVID crisis behind us, however, PAGCOR has recommended that these popular venues remain open.
Like in-person casinos in the Philippines, online casinos at the domestic level are limited to players 21 and older who meet a certain minimum income requirement.
Offshore Online Casinos In Cagayan Special Economic Zone
So, what if you’re under the 21-year-old minimum age to play or don’t meet the government’s strict income requirements? Are you out of luck? As luck would have it, no!
That’s because online casinos and other online gambling venues are available to Filipino gamblers of all income levels and who are 18 or older.
Offshore casino sites, such as the legal online casinos recommended here, are based outside of Philippine legal jurisdiction. And since the country’s gambling laws don’t bar individual access to these sites, you can safely and legally enjoy real-money casino games 24/7/365.
The titles available run the gamut, including all the following:
- Online Slot Machines
- Online Blackjack Tables
- Online Roulette (American)
- Online Roulette (European)
- Online Baccarat + Super 6
- Online Bingo Games
- Online Pai Gow Poker/Tiles
- Online Sic Bo Games
- Online Mahjong Games
- Online Craps
- Online Keno
- Online Lotto Games
- Online Scratch-Offs
- Online Pull-Tabs
- Online Sudoku
- Online Live-Dealer Casino Games
- + More!
Other Types Of Gambling In Cagayan Freeport Zone
In addition to the pair of Philippine hotel casinos in the Cagayan Freeport Zone, the area is also home to a number of other traditional and beloved gambling amusements. These include the following, which are listed in order of popularity:
- Sabong/Cockfighting – Called sabong in the Philippines, cockfighting is the oldest and most cherished gambling pastime in the islands. PAGCOR-regulated cockpits are located everywhere, including several in Cagayan Freeport. In-person sabong betting is legal to anyone aged 18+, but online cockfighting betting – aka eSabong betting – is currently illegal.
- Sports Betting – At the domestic level, ports betting in the Philippines is handled by the MegaSportsWorld brand (MSW). In 2021, online sports betting was legalized locally, but the age to participate is 21 and up. If you want more betting lines, better odds, and the ability to bet at just 18 years old, Philippine offshore sports betting sites are superior to the local MSW service.
- PCSO Lottery – The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office lottery is available nationwide, with small offices – called Small Town Lotteries (STL) – around every corner. The PSCO lotto is intended to compete with and displace illegal Jueteng gambling activities, which it does with some success.
- Horse Racing Betting – Horse racing betting has been a Philippine staple for 150+ years. Note, however, that even though the Cagayan Freeport extends over all of Santa Ana, the Santa Ana Park race track is actually located far away in Cavite, just a few miles from Manila City. But even if you can’t make it to the live races, there are plenty of OTBs and legal online racebooks at your disposal.