Philippine President Introduces Clearer Illegal Online Gambling Definition

After the massive crackdown on drugs, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has now set eyes on illegal online gambling. The Southeast Asian country’s highest official has recently issued an order that provides clear definitions of what illegal online gambling is and how issues related to the distribution of illegal iGaming services should be coped with.

Executive Order No. 13 was signed by President Duterte earlier this month and came into effect today, February 10. The legal document deems illegal all online gambling operations provided without the explicit authorization by the relevant regulatory bodies.

PAGCOR, the state-run gambling regulator will be responsible for the distribution of gaming licenses to the operators who have applied and have met the necessary requirements. The regulatory body together with the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation, and other national law enforcement agencies will have to work closely together to detect and sanction rogue gambling operators and other violators.

Online gambling providers licensed by PAGCOR will be allowed to provide their services to gambling customers located outside the Philippines. The state-run regulator will be assisted by the specially created Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APECO), and the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB) in granting licenses to eligible operators and curbing unauthorized online gambling.

PAGCOR, the above-mentioned freeport authorities, and the country’s law enforcement agencies will have to report to President Duterte about their progress on restricting unauthorized operations every six months.

Online gambling has been on the President’s radar screen since he assumed office in mid-2016. A number of Internet gambling cafés around the country were shuttered last year after PAGCOR was ordered not to renew their licenses. It later on became clear that the regulator would only issue licenses to operators that base their equipment within the Philippines borders, but provide their services to offshore players.

Late in 2016, President Duterte told media that he did not have the manpower to crack down on online gambling in the manner he wished, as the law enforcement agencies were busy curbing drug trafficking and other issues. It all shows that the President now has the necessary resources to shift his focus on iGaming.

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