Presidential moratorium on new Philippines casinos may be coming to an end

It looks as if Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte’s 17-month-old moratorium on the building of any new casinos outside of Manila, may soon be coming to an abrupt end.

According to a Thursday report from the local BusinessWorld newspaper, the controversial politician has long been seen an enemy of casinos and online gaming and issued his freeze order in February of last year so as to stop the construction of fresh casinos outside of the sprawling capital’s Entertainment City district.

Increased impetus:

However, BusinessWorld reported that the 74-year-old (pictured) used his fourth State of the Nation address on Monday to declare that he would like to see the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCor) ‘push for more gambling’ after the regulator recorded improved revenues. Duterte purportedly detailed that the country’s government-owned and controlled corporations had chalked up takings through to July 9 of more than $1.19 billion, which represented a rise of almost 70% when set against the same period in 2017, with some 32% of this amount at around $313.42 million having come from casinos and gambling.

The fiery President subsequently used a portion of his address to ‘salute’ Andrea Domingo, Chief Executive Officer for PAGCor, before instructing the regulator to ‘promote more gambling.’

Elusive explanation:

When asked for a clarification, Presidential spokesperson, Salvador Panelo, reportedly told the newspaper that a lifting of the ban on any new non-Manila casinos ‘would be the logical consequence of what [President Duterte] said.’

Panelo commented…

“There is no cabinet meeting [but] I will let you know if it’s on the agenda.”

Regulator confusion:

For her part, Domingo told the newspaper that she has not yet met with President Duterte to discuss his comments but was not interpreting his statements to mean that the prohibition should be immediately lifted. The nation’s chief gaming regulator also purportedly proclaimed that she was awaiting detailed instructions and hoped ‘to verify with him the first chance I get’.’

iGaming income:

Regarding the nation’s online gambling industry and Panelo reportedly used a Thursday briefing to explain that President Duterte is eager for the Bureau of Customs to increase its collections so as to help fund pay rises for government employees including nurses and teachers.

Presidential moratorium on new Philippines casinos may be coming to an end

Panelo added…

“The President wants more online gambling and legal casinos to increase our take. He also urged the Bureau of Customs to improve on their collections.”

Officials overcome:

In related news and reported yesterday that an attempt to collect tax from foreign nationals working for the Asian nation’s many offshore-facing online gaming operators has seemingly overwhelmed its Bureau of Internal Revenue. There are an estimated 130,000 Chinese nationals contracted by such enterprises in the Philippines and the government is purportedly hoping to bring in up to $39 million every month by requiring these to obtain a tax identification number (TIN) before being employed.

But, the news domain reported that tax officials have been inundated with so many TIN requests that they have now issued guidelines that are requiring operators to withhold the 25% tax themselves while the backlog is cleared up.

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