Philippine President Vows to Ban Online Gambling

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte issued an order this week to shut down all online gambling operations within his country.

“I am ordering the closure of all online gaming,” Duterte said from his presidential palace.

This is a reversal from the stance he took in August, saying that online gambling could continue as long as enforcement standards remain strict.

According to ABS CBN News, gaming stocks have plunged after Duterte’s announcement. PhilWeb Corp. saw their stocks fall 30 percent, while Resorts World experienced a 20 percent drop. This is even more significant when considering that Duterte only made his announcement an hour before the market closed.

PhilWeb is in the process of applying for a new license to supply software to gaming cafes, given that Philippine regulators wouldn’t renew their license in August. Former PhilWeb CEO Roberto Onpin resigned this year and distanced himself from the company after Duterte called him an oligarch who should be destroyed.

One reason why Duterte is waging war against online gambling is due to what he sees as a corrupted licensing process.

“Yung ma-appoint sa PEZA [Philippine Economic Zone Authority], he gets about P300 billion selling the umbrella-type of license…Mabuti nalang nalaman ko ‘yan,” the president said.

When Duterte initially took office on June 30, he said that online gambling needed to stop because it was spreading “out of control.” But as mentioned before, he appeared to back off this stance in August.

Based on his latest decree, Justice Secretary Vitalian Aguirre II said that his department will form a task force to further investigate internet gaming. Aguirre II said that closing down the country’s online gambling operations will be performed through due process.

While Duterte has been nothing short of controversial, he’s ramped things up this year.

During an April 27 campaign speech to business leaders, he vowed that his presidency would be “a bloody one” and he’d issue “a thousand pardons day” to policemen and soldiers accused of violating human rights.

Duterte has also bashed U.S. President Barack Obama and the European Union for their criticisms of his violent anti-drug campaign, which has left over 3,000 people dead. The president accused the U.S. of “undermining” the Philippines by manipulating exchange rates and causing their currency value to weaken.