Philippine president Duterte encourages gambling after pandemic impact

| By Nosa Omoigui
Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte has reversed his previous stance on gambling, suggesting that it should now be encouraged within the country, in order to recoup money lost due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking at a PDP–Laban party conference, Duterte suggested that the country’s efforts to contain Covid-19 depleted its cash reserves. He also stressed that the scientists fighting against the virus need as much financial support as possible.

After being hesitant to support gambling in the Philippines in the past, Duterte suggests that such activities should be allowed now with the country in need of tax revenue. He cited his previous opposition to the construction of new casino resorts as proof of his prior stance.

“Go ahead and gamble,” Duterte said.

“When I was President before, I said ‘I don’t want to gamble’ and I never allowed it. But when the pandemic came, we ran out of money. We have a reserve which we have used to contain the virus from rampaging all throughout the country.

He added that while there may be moral objections, these are outweighed by the impact that extra tax revenue would provide.

“But now because we need money, the most sensible thing is really just to encourage those activities, though it may sound repugnant to some. We really need the money.”

Duterte has shown support for the country’s offshore gambling industry in the past, after ignoring calls from China to ban online offshore gaming within the country. This came at a time when the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) stopped granting licences to offshore operators temporarily. However, there was greater opposition to allowing gambling within the country.

More recently, however, the country has taken steps to allow domestic online gambling. Earlier this year, regulator PAGCOR gave its approval for operator Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment approval to enter the online gaming market.

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