Philippine gambling laws were initially set up to govern the casinos and protect the players. The government established the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to regulate and license the industry and disburse the revenue obtained from these sources to other governmental branches. Over the years amendments have been added and retracted to fine tune the gambling industry in the Philippines. Today you will find that brick-and-mortar casinos and poker rooms are available across the region and while the current president disagrees with Philippine legal online gambling, the laws relating to this type of gambling entertainment do not impose any restrictions. This page will go into detail as to what laws pertain to gambling and how they affect the Filipino players and the gambling market in the region.
Is Gambling Legal In The Philippines?
Yes, gambling is legal in the Philippines when it is licensed and regulated. In 1975, then President Ferdinand Marcos wrote into law Decree No. 1067-a that defined legal gambling and created PAGCOR to license and regulate the industry. PAGCOR is the government agency created to oversee the gambling industry for the specific purpose to promote tourism and fund the building of infrastructure. There are also many casinos that are owned by PAGCOR, as of early 2017 they owned at least 46 casinos across the islands.
Is Online Gambling Legal In The Philippines?
Yes, there are no Filipino laws that state that it is illegal for residents to gamble online. The one exception is that Filipino-based casinos and sportsbooks are not allowed to offer their online services to residents of the Philippines, but Filipino players are given free access to partake in Philippine legal online poker, Philippine legal online casinos, Philippine legal horse betting, and Philippine legal online sports betting sites as long as the destinations are regulated and licensed by their local regulatory agencies or gaming commissions. All the gambling laws in force on the islands are directed towards the casino operators instead of the players.
A Break Down Of Philippine Gambling Laws
- Gambling laws were not a part of Philippine statutes until 1975 when then President Ferdinand Marcos signed the Decree No. 1067-a. This law defined legal gambling in the Philippines and created the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). This regulation specifically states what forms of gambling entertainment are legal. Any domestic gambling not listed among the approved venues is assumed to be illegal.
- Three years later Decree No. 1602 was passed and declared penalties for anyone violating the gambling laws in the Philippines.
- Republic Act (No. 9287) was signed in order to amend certain provisions of Decree (No. 1602), this act increased the penalty for illegal number games. A person caught playing or organizing an illegal game could get 30 days to 20 years imprisonment depending on the charge under this new amendment.
- In 1983, Presidential Decree (No. 1869) was enacted which requires the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to be used as a guideline on how to license and regulate gambling organizations. It also lists the corporate powers and operations of PAGCOR as well as any other powers, provisions, and exemptions that pertain to the government agency.
- The Republic Act (No. 7922) established the Cagayan Freeport economic zone for the Cagayan Valley. This regulation defined the principles of operations and created the Cagayan economic zone authority (CEZA) to promote tourism in the Cagayan providence area.
- In 2017, the Executive Order (No. 13) was written into law to strengthen the fight against illegal gambling. Section 3 of this order is the classification of online gambling and where they stated it is legal for Filipino residents to participate in regulated offshore sites but illegal for domestic operators to offer online gambling to Filipino residents.
- Republic Act No. 10927 was enacted in 2017 to strengthen Republic Act No. 9160 – The Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001. RA 10927 puts tougher regulations and restrictions on big payouts and wagers. It also mandates that all casinos now keep detailed records for 5 years about their customers.
- House Bill 8910 is a bill that aims to regulate e-sabong and online cockfighting throughout the Philippines. It also enhances several functions of the Games and Amusement Board.
Philippine Regulatory Agencies
- Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation –
(PAGCOR) is a 100% government-owned corporation permitted to operate, authorize and license any game of chance and to generate revenue for governmental national development programs.
- First Cagayan Leisure And Resort Corporation –
(FCRLC), Imposes its own set of laws and regulations for their economic region and aims to produce a self-sufficient industry and provide employment and income for the Metropolis of Santa Ana.
- Philippine Racing Commission –
(PHILRACOM), aims to maintain efficient and unbiased operations of horse racing that deals with the sport and gambling, while improving the breed of Philippine horses and preventing illegal importation of sporting horses.
- Games And Amusements Board –
(GAB) is the organization that regulates and supervises play for pay sports and strives to prevent the formation of illegal bookies and other illegal gambling centered around combat sport games and amusement games.
- Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office –
(PCSO), the principal government agency that organizes and regulates sweepstakes and lottery games while also engaging in welfare-related health investments.
FAQs About Philippine Gambling Laws
What Is The Legal Gambling Age in The Philippines?
21 is the legal gambling age throughout the Philippines for participation in domestic gambling entertainment. 18 is the legal gambling age for residents in the Cagayan Special Economic Zone.
What Forms Of Gambling Are Legal In The Philippines?
Domestic brick-and-mortar gambling and offshore online gambling are both permitted in the Philippines.
Why Can’t I Participate In Philippines Based Online Gambling?
The current President would like to see all online gambling outlawed for Filipino residents. He believes it is a problem running rampant across the islands and thus refuses to allow local casinos to offer their online services to Filipino residents.
What Is The Penalty For Illegal Gambling In The Philippines?
According to the Republic Act No. 9287, the penalty for illegal gambling can be anywhere from 30 days to 20 years imprisonment, depending on the offense.
30-90 days for a person caught in the act of illegal gambling participating as a bettor.
6-8 years for personal or staff of an illegal number game.
10-12 years for a coordinator of an illegal numbers game.
12-14 years for a manager, maintainer or operator.
14-16 years for a financier or capitalist
16-20 years for a protector or coddler