As of right now, most retail gambling in the Philippines has been temporarily suspended.
Per the government’s overarching coronavirus response, PAGCOR – the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation – has shuttered all operations in the National Capital Region, or NCR. This includes all 16 NCR cities, and all forms of retail gambling have been put on hiatus for the duration of the Metro Manila quarantine.
On its Facebook page, PAGCOR made the following announcement:
“PAGCOR believes in the seriousness of the COVID-19 situation. Hence, it supports the government’s extreme effort in containing the virus. For its part, the state-run gaming agency has decided to prohibit public gatherings in its gaming venues and in the licensed gaming properties that it regulates.”
While the quarantine and gambling suspension is scheduled to last until April 14, it could potentially stand for weeks or months longer, depending on the status of the Wuhan coronavirus in the region.
Additionally, while other casino gaming is still available in areas outside of the NCR, these are expected to close down within the next several days.
Though closing off major public gathering venues is invariably the best move the government can make to combat the foreign virus, gambling is popular in the island nation, and resident casino players and sports bettors now have nowhere to play.
Ironically, those under quarantine in China don’t have this problem, as they are able to access Philippine Online Gaming Operators, or POGOs, which allow both Internet-based casino gambling and sports betting. However, POGOs are not available to the Filipino populace, which has no domestic online gaming access.
The nature of the coronavirus – and the reality of persistent quarantines with nothing much to wile away the time but morale-killing worry and fear – may make the Philippine government rethink their ban on Internet-based gambling for the citizenry.
Of course, that won’t happen until after the immediate COVID-19 crisis has abated, which could take months.
In the meantime, it is important to note that Filipino gambling enthusiasts can actually play real-money slots, casino table games, poker tournaments, and bet on horse races at offshore casino sites like BetOnline and SportsBetting.
As their names imply, these sites also offer robust sportsbooks on local and international action, albeit there are only limited markets still up and running due to the coronavirus causing league cancellations worldwide.
The 2020 Philippine Cup that just kicked off the new PBA season has been suspended indefinitely, as has the NBA in America, which are the Philippines’ two most popular betting markets (outside of Manny Pacquiao fights). With no basketball betting on the radar, most players will gravitate towards casino options.
Still, there are some sports left to wager on (particularly eSports), and the coronavirus will definitely not shut down the hundreds of slots and casino classics (blackjack, craps, roulette, keno, etc.) that these betting sites offer.
Per Philippine gambling laws, you can access these sites freely and without penalty, as they operate outside of PH jurisdiction. Signing up only takes a few minutes, and all you need is an active Internet connection and modern computer or mobile device.
Coronavirus Gambling Advisory
At the end of the day, gambling is an entertaining pastime for most and can be a profitable endeavor for serious players. However, please be advised that you should not view legal online gambling in the Philippines as a way to make money during the COVID-19 shutdown.
If you have disposable income and want a way to pass the time and keep your spirits up when sequestered in your home, online casinos are a great option. However, if money is tight, please prioritize and focus on the essentials during this trying time.