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The industry of gambling in the Philippines is a fairly successful example of a gambling business. The government of these islands in southeast Asia had the goal of creating a powerful gambling corporation, which they successfully implemented with the maximum benefit to the state. There are both government casinos and private institutions on the territory of the country. All of them are operated under the licenses from PAGCOR corporation.

History of Gambling In The Philippines

The history of gambling in the Philippines started with backstreet gambling business. It flourished until the mid-seventies of the twentieth century in Manila, and almost all gamblings were played under-the-table. Without any regulation, in every way violating the law, without replenishing to the budget and taxes. Despite this fact, all institutions offered original gambling entertainments which were their own developments, unfortunately, not received distribution outside the country.

Officially at that time legal Philippines casino offers to play only some bingo halls, organized periodically by the local churches for charity purposes. Also, there was one legal bookmaker office that took bets on the jai-alai (popular with the Filipinos sport with the ball). Then everything changed.

Formation of Legal Casino Business In The Philippines

In 1976, President Fendinand Marcos signed Decree No. 1067, which established an institution called the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). This governmental body was appointed to manage the gambling industry. The aims were:

  • to make gambling a source of permanent income;
  • to eradicate illegal forms of gambling business;
  • to promote developing of tourism in the country.

A year later Manila Bay Casino began working. This was the first institution run by PAGCOR. It opened on board a three-deck cruise ship MS Philippine Tourist. After a couple of years on the liner was happened a large-scale fire. This event showed that it is impossible for the casino to continue functioning. PAGCOR decided to operate on the islands and create gambling establishments under patronage throughout the country. The first of them was launched at the Philippine Village Hotel. Henceforth it is successfully working.

In 1986 PAGCOR was reorganized. At present, it is a large and influential government body with more than eleven thousand employees. The corporation owns its own casinos and slot-halls in all major cities of the Philippines. It also issues permits and deals with the control above the private gambling establishments, including casinos, bingo halls and even Internet cafes where gamblings are offered.

The rules for issuing licenses to third-party operators are very strict and take into account national interests. So, only companies ready to invest at least one billion dollars can get permission for doing business in the gambling industry. Moreover, they are required to staff 95% of the citizens of the Philippine Islands, which allows the government to partially solve the problem of employment of local people.

Legal Off-line Casinos In Manila

Currently, there are about twenty casinos in Manila (the capital). Most of the establishments are owned by the Philippine Corporation of Entertainment and Gambling. They work under the brand name Casino Filipino. Also, there are gambling houses owned by other private companies that work under the PAGCOR license. Some of them are specialized institutions, others work on the basis of luxury hotels. Also, there are special clubs for Poker players.

Innovations For Online Gambling Business

Recently the Government of the Philippines made an in-depth analysis of the online gambling industry. Was concluded that many overseas operators working in the territory of the country with violations of the rules. In addition, the lack of local operators allows receiving non-Philippine companies a good profit. To restore the order and make gambling transparency industry in the Philippines, PAGCOR intends to revoke all licenses issued to foreign gambling operators and initiate a new stage of their re-localization. The license of a new sample will be much more difficult to obtain because, for this, it will be necessary to fulfil a number of complex requirements:

  • regular reporting to operators of PAGCOR on the state of affairs;
  • the conclusion of contracts with local representatives of online gambling for the rental of playgrounds;
  • at least 90% of the workers employed by the operator (maintenance, technical support, etc.) will have to be Filipino citizens;
  • written permission from the leaders of the region of the country in whose territory will operate the gambling company.

It is likely that this is not an attempt to establish virtual gambling business in the country. It looks like an attempt by the PAGCOR management to find a new source of funds.

Current Activities of PAGCOR

The regulator of the gambling business of the Philippines (PAGCOR) announced $ 97 million transfer to the fund of social and civil projects to support the country’s economic development. On October 25, 2017, the head of Pagcor, Andrea Domingo told that these funds will be used for various purposes, namely:

  • development of education in the Philippines;
  • unemployment benefits;
  • environmental ecological protection;
  • public health.

PAGCOR, in addition to regulating the entire gambling industry in the country, is also the operator of state-owned casinos. According to the tax return, the regulator’s net income for the first six months of 2017 was $ 60 million, which is 25% more than the previous year. And the amount of tax revenue for the first half-year was $ 290 million, of which $ 250 million was directly transferred to the Treasury Bureau of the Philippines.

Other Types Of Gambling In The Philippines

Speaking of other forms of gambling in the Philippines, first of all, we need to remember the bookmaking activity. Local residents are fond of the aforementioned jai-alai, cockfighting and horse racing. The most gamblers willingly make bets in official and illegal bookmakers.

For the first time, sweepstakes were legalized at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Now the license for this type of activity is owned by MegaSportsWorld, which has representative offices in most large populated regions of the country. At these points, bets on major sports are accepted.

Also, we can not forget about the Internet cafe. Metro Manila, owned by PAGCOR, is the operator of more than one hundred such establishments. Their visitors can make legal bets in various online gamblings.


The gambling business in the Philippines continues to actively develop. Casinos in Manila and other cities attract customers from different countries. In particular, over a million Chinese visited them last year. According to the arguments of the analytical companies Union Gaming Group and Morgan Stanley, the gambling industry of the Philippines is turning into one of the most profitable markets in the region.

Gross gaming revenue (GGR) is constantly growing. In 2016, GGR grew by 19%, compared to 2015, and amounted to USD 3 billion, and in 2017 it increased from 3.1 to 3.2 billion U.S. dollars.

Director of Morgan Stanley (major US bank holding company), Praveen Choudhary commented Philippines casino. Was said that the Philippine market is very promising. Appetite for gambling in Asia is still huge. While Filipinos can build casinos, resort complexes, and also offer various entertainments they should do it. Praveen Choudhary sure if everything will go its own way, the gambling success of the Philippines will grow from year to year.

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