Philippine Crisis as Rodrigo Duterte targets gambling operators

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The Philippines gambling sector faces a period of uncertainty as  newly elected Prime Minister Rodrigo ‘Roa’ Duterte has ordered the national gambling regulator to stop processing licensing applications for e-bingo parlours and gaming cafes.

Duterte who won May’s Philippine’s election promising his electorate an ultra-hardline stance on corruption, told cabinet ministers that ‘online gambling must be stopped’.

The President nicknamed ‘The Punisher’, further stated that his ruling PDP-Laban party linked gambling as a key factor of criminal activities such as drug and sex trafficking.

Duterte’s cabinet has requested that national regulator the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR)  rescind all online gambling applications.

The order had surprised PAGCOR Chair Andrea Domingo, who told local news sources that she had been given no prior warning from Duterte representatives. Domingo would further state;

“For now, we will freeze the issuance of licences for these types of games, and then review what the president said”

Philippine gambling stakeholders have requested that the government and regulators offer a defined terminology when referring to ‘online gambling’. At present Philippine consumers cannot access online betting websites, due to national restrictions.

Furthermore,  PAGCOR has issued only two ‘terminal-type eGames’ licenses for digital services run by operators’ PhilWeb and Leisure & Resorts World Corp.

The Philippines is the operational home to a number of online betting operators targeting Asian markets, with the majority of companies holding Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) licenses.

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