Gambling in the Philippines: In-Depth Legal and Regulatory Guide

Step into the vibrant world of Filipino gambling, a unique blend of age-old traditions and contemporary regulatory practices.

In this article, we offer a detailed exploration of the gambling sector in the Philippines, examining its legal framework, diverse types, cultural relevance, and economic contributions.

Historical Development and Legal Milestones

The history of gambling in the Philippines is influenced by various legal frameworks that have shaped and regulated its growth. Let’s dive into some of the most impactful laws and how they shaped the landscape:

  • 1973 – Presidential Decree No. 1602: This decree, issued by President Marcos during the Martial Law era, established the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) as the sole regulatory body for casinos and other games of chance. This marked a significant shift from a fragmented pre-existing system and laid the foundation for centralized oversight.
  • 1994 – Republic Act 7922: This act expanded PAGCOR’s mandate to include casinos in Economic Zones, paving the way for the development of major casino resorts like those in Clark and Cagayan. This move attracted foreign investment and boosted tourism revenue.
  • 2003 – Republic Act 9287: This act, also known as the Anti-Illegal Gambling Act, strengthened PAGCOR’s enforcement powers and criminalized various forms of illegal gambling. This aimed to curb the growth of unlicensed gambling activities and protect Filipino citizens from associated risks.
  • 2014 – Republic Act 10927: This act, often called the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act, introduced a franchise tax on PAGCOR-licensed casinos. This increased government revenue generated by the gambling industry and aimed to support various socio-economic development initiatives.
  • 2017 – Executive Order No. 13: This order, issued by President Duterte, revised gambling regulations and focused on combating money laundering within the industry. Casinos were mandated to report large transactions and cooperate with anti-money laundering efforts.

Timeline of Major Legal Milestones:

  1. 1976: Establishment of PAGCOR under Presidential Decree No. 1602
  2. 1994: Expansion of PAGCOR’s mandate to Economic Zones (RA 7922)
  3. 2003: Crackdown on illegal gambling with Anti-Illegal Gambling Act (RA 9287)
  4. 2014: Introduction of franchise tax on PAGCOR casinos (RA 10927)
  5. 2017: Focus on anti-money laundering within the industry (Executive Order No. 13)

Impact of Legal Milestones:

These legal frameworks have shaped the gambling industry by:

  • Centralizing the regulatory landscape: PAGCOR’s presence ensures order and standardization.
  • Boosting economic development: Casino resorts and taxes generate significant revenue.
  • Curbing illegal activity: Regulatory and enforcement measures aim to protect Filipinos from harmful practices.
  • Addressing potential risks: Anti-money laundering regulations mitigate financial crime concerns.

Is Gambling Legal In The Philippines?

Yes, gambling is legal in the Philippines, provided it is licensed and regulated under the appropriate laws and authorities. The legal landscape for gambling in the Philippines is defined by several key legislations and government bodies:

  1. Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR): PAGCOR, established by Presidential Decree 1067-a and 1869, oversees all gambling operations in the Philippines, including land-based casinos, online platforms, sports betting, and other gambling activities.
  2. Various Forms of Legal Gambling: The Philippines permits various legal gambling activities such as casino gambling, online betting, sports betting, and traditional Filipino games, with specific regulations for each.
  3. Restrictions on Online Gambling: Online gambling is legal in the Philippines, but restrictions exist, such as not allowing Philippine-based services to cater to residents, while offshore sites are allowed.
  4. Legal Age for Gambling: The legal age for participating in gambling activities in the Philippines is set at 21 years. This law is strictly enforced to prevent underage gambling and its associated risks.

How Does The Gambling Industry Operate In The Philippines?

The Philippine gambling industry is regulated by PAGCOR and other bodies, operating under a structured system. Here’s an overview of how the industry functions:

Regulatory Framework:

It regulates the gambling industry in the Philippines, overseeing legal and ethical standards, with other regulatory bodies like CEZA and the Philippine Racing Commission playing specific roles.

Types of Gambling Activities:

  1. Land-based Casinos: These include PAGCOR-operated casinos as well as privately-owned establishments. They offer a variety of games like slots, table games, and poker.
  2. Online Gambling: Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) operate offshore online gambling services in the Philippines, catering to players outside the country due to local gambling laws.
  3. Sports Betting: This includes betting on various sports, with a particular emphasis on horse racing and traditional games like cockfighting.
  4. Bingo and Lottery: Operated under specific licenses, these games are popular and widely available across the country.

Economic Contribution:

The gambling industry in the Philippines generates substantial revenue through licensing fees, taxes, and operational earnings, creating employment opportunities in sectors like hospitality, tourism, and construction.

Player Protection and Responsible Gambling:

Regulations ensure fair play and player safety through age restrictions, self-exclusion programs, and gambling addiction awareness campaigns, while strict enforcement of anti-money laundering laws prevents financial crimes.

Cultural Aspect:

Gambling in the Philippines is not just an economic activity but also a cultural one. Traditional and community-based gambling activities are common and socially accepted.

Future Trends and Developments:

The industry is subject to ongoing changes, including technological advancements in online gambling and potential legal reforms that could impact the sector’s operation.

What Are The Implications For Violating The Gambling-Related Rules In The Country?

In the Philippines, gambling-related rules can lead to severe consequences, including fines, community service, imprisonment, and asset forfeiture, depending on the specific violation and potential harm. Here’s a breakdown of potential implications:

Types of Violations:

  1. Operating an unlicensed casino: This can lead to imprisonment for up to 12 years and a fine of up to P10 million. Additionally, confiscated gambling equipment and proceeds can be forfeited.
  2. Participating in illegal gambling: Engaging in unauthorized gambling activities like street games or unlicensed online platforms can result in imprisonment for up to 6 months and a fine of up to P5,000. Community service or counseling for gambling addiction might also be imposed.
  3. Cheating in gambling games: Using dishonest tactics in casinos or other gambling settings can lead to imprisonment for up to 6 years and a fine of up to P1 million. This could also lead to a ban from entering casinos and potential lawsuits.
  4. Money laundering related to gambling: Washing money obtained through illegal gambling activities is a serious offense, with potential imprisonment for up to 15 years and a fine of up to P50 million. Additionally, asset forfeiture, travel restrictions, and reputational damage might ensue.
  5. Underage gambling: Gambling underage can lead to fines, legal action, exclusion from establishments, and counseling for underage gamblers, as well as potential legal consequences for organizers and parents.

Other Potential Consequences:

  • Criminal record: Any conviction for a gambling-related offense can leave a criminal record, impacting future employment, travel, and other aspects of life.
  • Social stigma: Participating in illegal gambling or violating related laws can lead to social stigma and reputational damage within the community.
  • Financial costs: Fines, legal fees, and potential lost income due to incarceration or community service can have significant financial consequences.


In conclusion, the gambling industry in the Philippines is a complex yet well-structured ecosystem. This article has highlighted the balance struck between economic development and responsible gambling practices.

The industry’s future, teeming with potential, hinges on maintaining this equilibrium, ensuring that the growth of gambling in the Philippines remains both sustainable and socially responsible.

100% First Deposit Bonus 1000 PHP

100% First Deposit Bonus 1000 PHP

Refer A friend and get Free 250 PHP for you and A friend

Refer A friend and get Free 250 PHP for you and A friend