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Philippines - online gambling regulations

Published by Niki | August 10, 2020

Gambling regulations, laws and taxes in the Philippines

Online gambling is an incredibly hot topic nowadays, especially amongst government officials. This billion-dollar industry has the potential to bring in big revenue each year, but with it comes a whole new set of problems. There are many countries that have opened their doors to online gambling while others have tried to block it in any way possible.

The Philippines, however, is another story. In this small country, gambling exists and it’s very popular. The country is home to a number of large casinos that have all been licensed by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). When it comes to online gambling things can often get confusing, as it is legal, but there is a difference between the main region of the Philippines and the Cagayan Freeport, in how online gambling is run.

In this guide, we take a look at the history of gambling, the current laws and regulations and all things affecting online gambling, and how it is perceived and managed across the Philippines.

Gambling regulations in the Philippines

The history and laws of gambling in the Philippines

The Philippines have never been against gambling per se, but rather against any forms of illegal gambling. The laws can be quite difficult to understand, but once you manage to get a hold of them it’s relatively easy to follow.

The Philippines have two regulatory bodies that are in complete control of gambling operations in the country. These regulatory bodies are the ones that oversee and license all gambling operations within this territory. The main regulatory body is PAGCOR, and it was established in 1976 by President Ferdinand Marcos. This regulatory body is 100% state-owned and is responsible for licensing all the nation’s gambling operations. PAGCOR was given a new lease in 2007, which means they will remain in control over the gambling industry until 2032. About 50% of all revenue from any casinos licensed by this regulatory body goes to the national treasury.

But there is also another regulatory body, namely the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), which has control overall gambling matters in the tourist-friendly Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport. This area is the only part of the Philippines that remains outside of the control of PAGCOR.

The differences in gambling laws between these two regions are very minor, but the biggest difference is in their approach to online gambling. The Cagayan territory only allows foreign players to partake in online gambling. In the main part of the Philippines, Filipinos are only allowed to partake in online gambling by using one of many e-Games Stations (PEGS) placed around the country. Thus, it is illegal for Filipinos to partake in online gambling activities directly from their homes.

A problem in this ruling showed its head in 2012 when the Filipino Court of Appeals issued a ruling that stated the Presidential Act put in place for online gambling does not cover everything, and as such does not ban the use of foreign-based online casinos. This means that Filipinos can still partake in online gambling on foreign sites without getting into trouble for it with the law. According to the court appeal of 2012, it was made clear that players cannot be penalised for anything that is not specifically claimed as illegal according to the laws.

A quick fix by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte

With the laws being a little flawed and there clearly being loopholes allowing foreign operators to access Filipino players, something had to be done. It is well known that, like China, the Philippines has joined the fight against all illegal online gambling activities. In February 2017 the country’s President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 13 to bring clarity to the online gambling market.

With this Executive Order, they aim to clarify the extent of authority when it comes to the licensing and regulation of online gambling, as well as fight to remove all forms of illegal gambling. The order seems to have finally clarified that any online gambling operators which are not state-approved are considered illegal.

Are online gambling winnings taxable in the Philippines?

The issue around taxation on gambling winnings can often be relatively confusing, as there is no actual point stating you should declare your winnings and pay tax on it. However, the government requires by law that all incomes be declared. It is unclear how much tax you will have to pay on winnings, as it can be 10% on wins below PHP 10,000 or up to 20% for any winnings above. It is unclear if this is mandatory, as there are many online gamblers within the country who play large amounts of money on a daily basis without ever declaring it.

According to sources, if you have a set monthly income from a permanent job on which you pay tax, you are less likely to be followed up. Those who make online gambling their profession are required to declare their winnings, or they could face penalties and run into trouble with the law. As with many other countries, the main rule is still that honesty is the best policy. If you don’t want to get into trouble with the law it would be best to declare any winnings, especially big wins, when filing your tax returns.

Most taxes, however, are obtained from the operators, both online and on-land. These operators are subjected to a set amount of tax annually, which has gone up in recent years.

Is online gambling legal in the Philippines?

Things are rather confusing in the Philippines at the moment, especially when it comes to online gambling. The ruling authorities are doing everything in their power to take control and completely eliminate all forms of illegal gambling activities.

Players can rest assured that gambling online is legal, as long as you do it at any legally licensed online casinos. While the authorities seem more focused on hunting down operators rather than individual players, this could change at some point. For now, you as a Filipino can safely enjoy the best online gambling entertainment at any licensed online casino site.

And with the regulations being so strict, there is more assurance that these casinos are completely safe and fair, with 100% random outcomes on their games. Before you rush to sign up, make sure you take a look at the list of best online gambling casinos, which includes the casinos with the biggest and most rewarding welcome bonuses.

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