Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has once again flip-flopped from his earlier stand opposing gambling in the South East Asian nation. He now acknowledges revenue from gaming is needed to meet shortfalls, especially due to recent COVID-19 costs.
“Now that we need money, the most sensible thing is really just to encourage those activities,” Duterte said last week, according to state-run news sources.
“Though it may sound not really repulsive, but maybe repugnant to some, you have to deal with it because we need money for the country,” he was further quoted by PhilStar Global, an online English news operation based in the Philippines.
When it comes to the pandemic, we’re running out of money. We used up all our reserved funds to contain the viral virus from rampaging all throughout the country,” he added.
Word of his latest statements led to a rise in gaming stocks last Thursday, Bloomberg reported. For instance, Bloomberry Resorts Corp. increased 6.5 percent. It owns Manila’s Solaire Resort & Casino.
Also, Philippine-based PhilWeb Corp. jumped 7.5 percent. It is an online gambling company. In addition, Leisure & Resorts World Corp. increased 5.7 percent. It is a Philippines-based gaming holding company.
Blocked Two Major Casino Projects
Duterte’s recent comments were in sharp contrast to 2018, when he halted construction on a $1.5 billion casino resort in Manila. That directive came moments after the developer, Landing International, held a ceremonial groundbreaking. Earlier, Landing had received a gaming license for the project.
Also, in 2018, he blocked the Galaxy Entertainment $500 million casino resort plan for the Philippines’ vacation island of Boracay. It also had been approved initially by the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
In addition, in 2019 Philippines offshore gaming operator (POGO) license applications were suspended by Duterte. But soon after, Duterte refused to yield to China’s demand that Philippines online gambling operations targeting foreign markets be shuttered.
As of then, it was estimated that 60 licensed online gaming companies in the Philippines employed some 350,000 workers. Many were Chinese nationals. As of May, PAGCOR reported 31 out of 40 POGOs still in business could resume gaming operations, PhilStar said.
In 2019, Duterte admitted he could no longer “control” gambling in the Philippines, and it appeared he would let individuals decide for themselves about taking part in popular forms of gaming.
Two years ago, Duterte further announced he wanted PAGCOR to make the Philippines “the top gaming and entertainment destination” in Southeast Asia by 2020.
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