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Executive Order on Gambling Signed by Philippine President

- February 13, 2017 By Oliver Young -

The new order will clear the mess that President Duterte created himself.

Philippine operators will retain the right to offer offshore gambling.

The prospects and the future of the casino industry in the Philippines became pretty complicated after Rodrigo Duterte was elected president. One of his promises was to tackle illegal online gambling, but nobody was quite sure what he actually meant by ‘illegal’ gambling. During the first months of his reign, there were worries that the President intended to ban online gambling altogether.

The Order Clarifies Gambling Jurisdictions’ Authorities

The President and his associates were sending mixed signals and the online casino industry as a whole was in serious danger. All that is behind us now, as Duterte finally signed an order which contains provisions regarding licencing and regulation of online gambling in the country.

In the beginning of the document it is noted that in the Philippines there is more than one body in charge of licencing gambling operators including Casiguran located in the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone which was established in 2016 before Duterte was elected, as well as Cagayan, Bataan and the national regulator – PAGCOR.

In the document it is noted that there is a level of confusion regarding the authority and the scope of work of each of the bodies and organisations that exist in the country. Therefore, the main aim of the order to ensure that each regulatory body will be working in accordance with its mandate and authority.

The new order is the document that finally defines what is understood by illegal gambling, naming every form of gambling which is not covered by an appropriate regulatory body. It is further specified that gambling related activities, even the ones that are not directly related will be considered illegal if they are not conducted in accordance with the appropriate licencing requirements.

Certain operators have already been sanctioned for offering gambling services outside the area where their authorisation was issued and it is expected that this trend will continue in the future, especially after Duterte signed the executive order.

Offshore Online Gambling Permitted

It is believed that the national regulator, PAGCOR won’t be suffering any negative consequences as it has the authority to issue licences that are valid throughout the Philippines. PAGCOR has so far issued 35 offshore gaming licences. Local authorities will continue issuing permits to all holders of licences issued by PAGCOR.

But, it seems that the new act might pose a problem for Cagayan (CEZA) as most of its licence holders offer their services outside the territory of the Cagayan Economic Zone and that will no longer be possible.

The new act reinforces the ban for offering online gambling to Philippine citizens. In Section 3 it is clearly stated that no operator is allowed to offer its services to citizens of the Philippines who are located outside of the territory for which the licence is valid. This, in turn, forbids Philippine citizens who are not physically located in one of the economic zones.

However, Section 3 further states that operators are fully permitted to offer betting and gambling services to foreigners, i.e. people located outside the territory of the Philippines. This will once and for all resolve the controversy regarding offshore online gambling that was stirred by Duterte’s previous comments. The Philippine online gambling industry is pretty much safe now.

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