Philippines Presidential Decree No. 1602

Presidential Decree No. 1602 (PD 1602) is a law that was passed by the Philippine government to simplify and provide tougher penalties for illegal gambling activities or violations of Philippine gambling laws. Signed into law by then President Ferdinand Marcos in 1978. In the opening statements, it says that this law was passed as there was an urgent need to provide a clearer understanding of Philippine gambling laws.

Especially articles 195-199 Republic Act 3063 (Horse Racing Bookies), Presidential Decree 499 (Cockfighting), Presidential Decree No. 483 (Game Fixing), Presidential Decree No. 519 (Slot Machines), Presidential Decree No. 1036 (Jai Alai Bookies), and other ordinances since they have become plentiful, confusing and ineffective.

Does PD 1602 Make Licensed Offshore Online Gambling Illegal?

No, PD 1602 makes no reference to online gambling. Offshore online gambling is legal but Philippine residents are encouraged to only participate at licensed online sites that are in compliance with their local gaming regulators for their own protection.

Violations Defined In Presidential Decree 1602

Section 1 of PD 1602 outlines the violations and penalties for anyone caught directly or indirectly taking part of illegal game wagering. In its medium degree, a person caught faces a fine from 500 pesos to 2,000 pesos while a re-offender can face a fine of 1,000 pesos to 6,000 pesos. Illegal games, illegal bookie operations and game fixing schemes in any of the following games or similar operations are considered illegal and punishable by this law.

Games include: blackjack, lucky nine, Russian poker, monte, baccarat, other card games, palk que, domino, high and low, slot machines, roulette, pinball, dog racing, boat racing, car racing, basketball, volleyball, soccerboxing, seven-eleven dice games, game fixing, point shaving, and any other game scheme consisting of money being wagered without a franchise from the national government.

Anyone who knowingly allows any of these illegal operations to take place in any building, place, vessel, or transportation owned or controlled by them will face the maximum punishment and a fine of 6,000 pesos. A prison sentence and a fine of 6,000 pesos will be imposed upon a conductor or upon the maintainer of the gambling scheme.

A medium-degree penalty of prison mayor, temporary absolute disqualification, and a fine of 6,000 pesos will be levied if the conductor, banker or maintainer is a government employee. The same goes for any player, promoter, referee, umpire, judge, or coach that participates in game fixing, point shaving, or a similar scheme.

Illegal game organizers, maintainers, or conductors who without lawful purpose are caught in possession of any lottery list, paper or other matter containing letters, figures, signs, or numbers which pertain to any game of jueteng, jai-alai, horse racing bookies or similar game or lottery will face a penalty of prison correctional and a fine of up to 2,000 pesos.

Bangary Officials

A bangary is the smallest administrative division of government in the Philippines and bangary officials are elected representatives of those villages. PD 1602 states that any bangary official whose jurisdiction is found to have a gambling house and is known to have a reputation for a gambling house shall face a penalty of prison and a fine of 500 to 2,000 pesos and will be temporarily suspended from his post.

The revised penal code considered the skill of the player in determining whether the game is considered gambling, now under PD 1602 that does not matter. Any game can be considered gambling where there is money wagered and a participant hopes to win a prize.

Under the old code, the skill of the player that outweighs the possible chance of winning the game is considered a sport and not gambling. Under PD 1602, a players skill is irrelevant and any form of gambling is illegal unless authorized by a franchise. Betting or wagering determines if a game is gambling or not.

Games that are exempt from placing bets but are still illegal include monte, jueteng, lottery games, dog races, slot machines, and other similar games. These games are addictive, habit forming, and bring harmful effects to the player’s families and personal finances. Possession of an illegal lottery list is a punishable crime whether it refers to a past or future drawing.

Informers Reward Offered Through PD 1602

PD 1602 rewards informants that lead officials to an illegal gambling arrest. Section 3 states that anyone who leads law enforcement to an arrest and a conviction of an illegal gambling scheme in violation of Philippine gambling laws shall be rewarded with 20% of the confiscated cash money. This gives informers an incentive to help law enforcement crackdown on illegal gambling operations.

Effective Date of Presidential Decree 1602

PD 1602 took effect in 1978 but has since been amended by the Republic Act 9827 (RA 9827) which increased the penalties for illegal number games and amended certain provisions. PD 1602 and RA 9827 are both still in effect and the Philippine National Police are still combating illegal gambling operations.