Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Attempts to Ban Internet Gambling
Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte announced Thursday that he will cease and eliminate all online gambling in his country.
He did not elaborate on his plans or give any details regarding how he would go about the ban. He broached the subject during a speech in which he detailed a budget for 2017 for the Philippines.
Internet gambling has been incredibly lucrative for the country, and has reportedly earned investments into the billions of dollars from investors looking to build casino resorts. The country has established itself as one of the most attractive gambling industries in all of Asia.
Duterte warned of a potential crackdown upon assuming office in June, but seemed to undergo a change of heart in August. He was quoted as saying,
“I was mad because even the youth are gambling and there was no way of collecting the proper taxes. I will restore online (gambling) provided taxes are correctly collected, and they are situated or placed in districts where gambling is allowed, which means to say, not close to churches or schools.”
Why ban online gambling?
However, his statement declaring he would issue a ban on internet gambling in all forms certainly sounds a lot like his original platform. Later in August, he did away with one firm’s 13-year monopoly on gambling in licensed internet cafes.
Because the country has no way of regulating the industry, Duterte decided to just do away with it altogether. Much of the revenue generated by internet gambling operators comes from other countries, and bets collected outside of the Philippines do not generate revenue for the country.
Duterte also revealed that there has been corruption in the issuing of gambling licenses in the past. He recently ordered the arrest of gambling tycoon Jack Lam and accused him of bribing officials in order to secure the release of over one thousand undocumented Chinese nationals working under Lam’s casino operation. Duterte also accused Lam of tax fraud.
Will this help the existing casino industry?
Some expect the president’s crackdown on internet gambling to provide a major boost for traditional casinos in the Philippines. In September, local casino mogul Enrique Razon told Bloomberg that he plans to invest about $420 million to build a traditional casino in the nation’s capital of Manila sometime in the near future.
The Philippines may also be in a position to take advantage of China’s recent crackdown on corruption. That figures to lead wealthy Chinese gamblers that are intent on fleeing China to the Philippines’ robust casino industry. Manila reportedly plans to become an Asian gambling hub.
Filipino gambling law
Filipino law regarding internet gambling is complicated. As expounded upon on our Philippines Gambling Law page, Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) operates all land-based casinos.
Philippine-based individuals that are not affiliated with PAGCOR are not allowed to offer their games to residents of the Philippines. However, online gambling for Filipinos is legal. That means PAGCOR, despite owning a monopoly on land-based casinos, does not benefit from the majority of online gambling that takes place within the nation.
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