Filipino President Says He Hates Gambling, Rules Out New Casinos

Filipino President Says He Hates Gambling, Rules Out New Casinos

Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte stated that while he understands casinos that have been operating in the country have to be allowed to continue to operate by law, he “hates” gambling, and refuses to allow more casinos to open in the Philippines. This, unfortunately, not only deprives the country of additional revenue, but the country also runs the risk of losing additional jobs that could be gained through gaming and construction.

Gaming in The Philippines

The Philippines has many different forms of legalized gaming, as well as street games that are not legal. The country has casinos, bingo, horse racing, and cockfighting, as well as online gaming. Gambling has been popular in the country since colonial times, and past efforts to eradicate or further regulate gaming have not been successful.

Duterte’s Presidency

Duterte was elected president in 2016 after a long career in city and state politics. From the beginning, his presidency has had issues, and he has been considered flamboyant and inflammatory. He has publicly condemned the Islamic insurgents and drug dealers and has acted to have members of both groups executed.

Duterte has stated publicly that he is against anything that is considered a vice, which he has stated includes gambling. He abruptly stopped the $1.5 billion development for Landing International’s integrated casino without explanation. The project had just broken ground, and Duterte said that the government has been at a disadvantage because of the cheap rental of the land and the length of the lease. Duterte says he has been opposed to casinos for years and will not allow new ones to be built in the country as long as he is president.

The Impact of Duterte’s Decision

Duterte’s decision will have a very big impact on the economy of the Philippines. It is currently one of Asia’s fastest-growing markets with respect to gambling, and it is hoped that it will rival the casinos of Macau in the near future. The integrated casino-resorts, with tons of amenities, have helped the Philippines create more tourism revenue, as well as tax revenue. Because many countries in Southeast Asia do not allow gambling, the Philippines is poised to be a giant in the gaming industry in that part of the world.

There are currently nine casino companies in the Philippines that operate nearly 1,500 table games and nearly 10,000 electronic gaming machines. Gaming revenue is on the rise in the country, rising 12 percent to $3.3 billion in 2017.

It remains to be seen how much of an effect Duterte’s move will have on the casinos that are already operating, as well as those casinos that were granted licenses weeks before his decision. But, the country is struggling, and casino jobs pay well, much better than the national average. If Duterte moves to get rid of gaming, he will jeopardize thousands of jobs and hundreds of thousands of livelihoods that go along with those jobs, and that might work to destabilize his presidency, as well as the country.

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